Ameristar adding parking before decision on building|[6/22/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ameristar Casino and Hotel is adding a parking area and expects completion later this summer of the new lot on its north slope.

The 38,500-square-foot lot will add about 93 spaces for the casino at 4116 Washington St., said Ray Neilsen, general manager.

The company also has pending a plan to build a 200-foot hotel and 90-foot parking garage.

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“At Ameristar, we are constantly tweaking our business model, and that means consistent reinvestment in the property,” Neilsen said.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen will hear the $150 million hotel and garage proposals at 10 a.m. June 30 and decide whether to waive the city’s height limits along the Mississippi River. The city’s zoning board deadlocked on whether to grant the variance.

The city ordinance, designed to protect river views, prohibits construction taller than 65 feet along the Mississippi.

Vicksburg National Military Park officials have urged caution about the proposed 14-story hotel because of overlooks immediately north, south and east of the construction area. Those bluffs are where Civil War cannons once guarded the city’s entrances. Ameristar has provided site plans and computer drawings showing minimal change in the view from overlooks if the garage and hotel are OK’d.

The new hotel would become the tallest in the city, surpassing the 11-story Vicksburg Hotel on Clay Street. The downtown First National Bank building has eight floors, the Horizon hotel has seven and the existing Ameristar hotel on the east side of Washington Street has eight floors.

The proposed hotel would be adjacent to the casino between Washington Street and the river.