Ameristar seeks to add new hotel, parking garage|[3/2/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Ameristar Casino Hotel filed a zoning application Tuesday to add a parking garage and second hotel to its property on Washington Street.

The application will be presented at the Zoning Board meeting in April, Ameristar spokesman Annie Mitchell said.

The casino operates a 150-room hotel across Washington Street from its casino, built on two barges inside a cofferdam adjacent to the Mississippi River.

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The new hotel and parking garage will be built in the riverside parking area. The 1,150-space parking garage will be built first, followed by the hotel, which will have meeting rooms, retail shopping space and a pool, Mitchell said.

Ameristar is requesting a variance on the height of the parking garage and hotel, she said. While the height of the projects was not available, Vicksburg’s casino design ordinance sets limits to protect “view corridors” to the Mississippi River.

The casino, Vicksburg’s largest, had already announced it plans to add a poker room and 200 slot machines this year. Horizon Casino has the only poker room in Vicksburg at the moment, though Rainbow Casino has announced plans to open one this month.

Ameristar is not releasing further details until after the Zoning Board meeting, Mitchell said. However, Ray Neilsen, general manager, said the company had conducted tests on the riverside land to ensure it can handle the new developments.

“All of Ameristar’s building placement and foundation designs carefully take any structural issues into account for any type of construction project. We have been taking soil samples for nearly six weeks and have vigilantly studied the fault line of the area, which was included in the zoning request submitted to the city,” Neilsen said.

In 2003, Ameristar invested $9 million to remodel the buffet and completed a $10 million renovation in 1999. The company has spent more than $150 million upgrading the property since its casino opened in 1994.

Ameristar owns seven casinos, including three on barges or riverboats in Missouri and Iowa, two land-based casinos in Nevada and one in Colorado.