Thursday, May 26, 2011

Columbus, Penn National Shake On $400M Casino Deal; Annexation Fight Appears To Be Over

Like the song, The Long And Winding Road, it has taken the City of Columbus and officials at Penn National -- the gaming company charged with developing a $400 million casino on the city's west side -- quite some time to come to an agreement.

At issue? Annexation into the city. Water/sewer tap in fees. And who reaps the reward of income taxes for the 3,500 construction jobs leading to a 2012 opening, and the 2,000 full-time jobs at the casino.

With a deal in place, the parties now have a few months to iron out the details. But the argument isn't over entirely. Franklin Township would have liked to have been the beneficiary of the income taxes, and had already granted a certificate of use for the property, an old Delphi automotive plant site.

Of course, relations between the city and Penn National have been cool at best much of the time. When voters across the Buckeye State went to the polls and were asked whether casinos should be allowed to be constructed in Ohio, Central Ohio voters voted against the measure. Still, the proposal called for casino sites in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo. So whether city officials or residents wanted one, people residing in Ohio's capital city were getting a casino. That was only the beginning. Then there was the mayor, who said he didn't want a casino downtown in the Arena District (a superior location if you ask me, but no one did....). The replacement site on the west side suggested and acted upon, but accusations from both sides that the other had reneged on some oral agreement.

And things sort of went downhill from there. The issue of how much the casinos will pay the state in royalties, taxes has come to the forefront again, as well. Here is hoping that the resulting development do as promised: breathe new economic life into the stagnant Columbus west side. New businesses, a refurbished mall or two, and perhaps some new hotels. Time will tell....

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