Penn National will bet on Delphi
Penn National Gaming is placing their bets on the city’s Westside.
After weeks of crowded meetings and petition signing, local leaders have succeeded in convincing the developer that “the Westside is the best side” for their business.
“This is a project that is going to have a major impact on this area,” said State Senator Jim Hughes (R-16).
After the passing of Issue 3 last November paved the way for Penn to break ground in the Arena District, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and other city leaders formed an opposition to that location.
“A casino would cause major traffic issues in that area,” said Coleman. “It was not a good fit.”
Penn National Gaming President Tim Wilmott announced on Jan. 19 the company has selected the former Delphi plant on Georgesville Road as the new site for their Columbus casino.
“We agreed…to listen to the call for an alternative site,” said Wilmott.
Wilmot cited four main reasons for selecting Delphi over several possible locations around the city, including highway access, room for development, community support and the fact that the former auto plant is now a Brownfield project.
“The fact that the site is a Brownfield project supports our goal of urban renewal,” he added.
Wilmott noted that, just 45 minutes before the start of the press conference to announce their plans, the company signed an option to purchase the plant from General Motors.
“We just want to get our shovels in the ground,” he said. “We want to get this casino up and running and get the jobs filled by Ohioans.”
“Our job is not yet done,” added Coleman.
Now that Penn National has selected a new site, several things must happen before they can start building.
Issue 3 specifically named the Arena District location as the site for Columbus’ casino, so voters now need to approve a change in location before Penn National can solidify plans for a Westside casino.
“The state legislature will now consider putting a new constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot to change the site,” said Coleman.
“You rely on about 10 million other people around Ohio,” said State Senator Jon Husted, chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee. “You can’t help but root for you and your success.”
State Representative Ted Celeste (D-24) said the movement to bring new business to the Westside has been unprecedented.
“If we can turn that passion into some creative support for these efforts, it’s going to make a big difference,” he said.
In order for the amendment allowing the move to be placed on the May ballot, it must be certified by Feb. 3.
Coleman stressed that without the overwhelming support from area groups, the Westside may not have been selected to host the casino. In recent weeks, resolutions of support were passed by the Hilltop Business Association, the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, the Westland Area Commission, the Westland Area Business Association, Franklin Township trustees and Prairie Township trustees.
According to Dewey Stokes, vice president of the HBA, over 51 businesses on or near the West Broad Street corridor signed a letter of support and over 4,000 voters signed petitions in favor of the development.
“If you don’t have help, you don’t get there,” said Stokes.