Isle of Capri, city leaders celebrate casino at Cape Girardeau groundbreaking
Thursday, March 31, 2011 ~ Updated 4:07 PM
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
City leaders and casino executives celebrated Thursday by digging their golden shovels into the dirt to break ground for a $125 million Isle of Capri casino complex in Cape Girardeau.
"We are excited to bring this project to your community. It is a game changer for Cape and it is a game changer for Isle," said Virginia McDowell, president and chief operating officer at Isle of Capri.
Several hundred people attended the ceremony, including the president of the Missouri Gaming Commission, Jim Mathewson.
For nearly a year, Isle of Capri has been working with local businessmen David Knight and Jim Riley and city officials first to secure Missouri's 13th and final casino license and then obtain the property needed for the casino.
The new gaming and entertainment complex north of downtown at the old shoe factory site off North Main Street is expected to have 1,000 slot machines, 28 table games, three restaurants, a lounge and terrace overlooking the Mississippi River and a 750-seat event center.
Scheduled to open in 2012, the casino will create approximately 450 jobs, McDowell said.
"We have designed this property to celebrate the river heritage of Cape, to compliment the existing business community and to serve as a future catalyst for development on Main Street," she said.
The casino is expected to attract new visitors from six different states and generate $1 million in new tax revenue for the state and the city.
"Today is really a new beginning for our area and for our ward," said Ward 1 city councilman John Voss.
More than 100 years ago, city leaders stood near the same spot to break ground on the Roberts, Johnson and Rand Shoe Co., Voss said. At its peak, the factory employed 1,600 people and spurred the development of homes, businesses and churches in what became known as the Red Star district. The name came from the red star imprinted on the men's dress shoes made there.
"Like the shoe companies of the past, the Isle of Capri has started a partnership with Cape Girardeau. A partnership we envision will continue to grow our families, our neighborhoods and our region," Voss said.
Construction on the relocation of North Main Street at the casino site will begin next week, said Dick Meister, Isle's vice president of design and construction.
Cape Girardeau County contractors hired for the road realignment project are Fronabarger Concreters, Inc., Apex Paving, Cotner Electric, Nip Kelly Trucking & Equipment, Monroe Plumbing and Roadrunner Safety.
The bid process for the casino construction is ongoing, Meister said.
"We are completing interviews and have some excellent candidates that have come to us," he said. Isle will announce the selection of its building contractor in early May.
Look for more on this story later at www.semissourian.com and in Friday's Southeast Missourian.