The Terre Haute Convention Center is still dead.
The Terre Haute Casino is still dead.
No public outrage. No apologies. The Mayor, the City Council, the County Council, the Capital Improvement Board, the Chamber of Commerce are waiting silently for EMS/firefighters to arrive and begin CPR.
Parking lots have been purchased. $2.4 million dollars has been paid out in Convention Center bills and the project still has nowhere to go, no plan in place.
The Convention Center is on hold until the “they” can figure out how to build a second parking garage to replace the parking lot being removed from the Downtown Hilton Garden Inn.
The Hope is that the Vigo County School Corp. will sell their downtown Administration Building and then that building can be bulldozed and turned into a parking lot. The Terre Haute City Council would need to change downtown zoning ordinances that prohibit parking lots along Wabash Ave.
The benefit of this public/private partnership is that money can be spent, profits can be made, risk is spread to a large tax payer base. Private sector business may have a difficult time competing with subsidized meeting room spaces, but that is of minor concern as long as no entity is permitted to book less than a 400 person occupancy in order to prevent a government funded convention hall from cannibalizing the private business owner venues in the Terre Haute.
Another small issue is who is going to own what and be responsible for what. Officials in Terre Haute/Vigo County have yet to define this clearly. Local income taxes, redevelopment funds, food and beverage taxes, increase property taxes, and bonds will all be used to keep the project afloat
According to Steve Witt, the Executive Director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment and a member of Capital Improvement Board it is “still being discussed who will actually own and operate the parking garage.” The only thing decided is that taxpayers are paying for it.
CASINO CASINO CASINO
What about the Casino? That is the second engine of growth in Terre Haute. Strategically planned and aligned to work hand in hand in pocket with the Convention Center.
It is DEAD right now also. Waiting on enough money and politics to get the Indiana Gaming Commission to turn its back on a Federal Court Case that implicates Greg Gibson’s business partner and part owner of Spectacle Entertainment in illegal campaign contributions.
The Casino would have already begun construction if a guilty plea hadn’t surfaced out of Federal Court in Virginia, of which nobody cares about back in Indiana.
Brad Anderson, Commissioner, said he doesn’t think it has anything to do with our casino.
Sen. Jon Ford said he doesn’t think it’s a negative thing.
Terre Haute Mayor Bennett called it a speed bump that he hopes the local partners can work out.
One unsubstantiated rumor is that Full House Resorts spurred the investigation after being blocked from building a Casino in Terre Haute back in 2017.
Full House did not compete for the Terre Haute Gambling License in 2019. Some speculating that the rules created potentially gave preferential treatment to local landowners. The ties to the Capital Improvement Board and Chamber of Commerce as well as questionable relationships with Indiana politicians on the payroll of Spectacle have been widely reported in Indianapolis based news outlets and spurred legislative action to try limit the influence of casino operators.
Full House had plans to develop a Casino along the Wabash River. It would have included a hotel, several bars and restaurants, and would bring visitors closer to downtown business and revitalize a portion of the city that has been stagnate for decades. Full House is the owner the Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, IN. It’s newest casino is planned for WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS.
See You In Terre Haute