Image via facebook.com/saulttribe
The City of Lansing and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians have completed a critical step in their plan to get federal approval of a casino in downtown Lansing — an agreement for sale of city-owned land next to the Lansing Center.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Sault Tribe Chairperson Aaron Payment, and Bob Liggett, owner of Big Boy restaurants across Michigan and former owner of Lansing radio station WFMK, signed documents Thursday completing the transfer of the land to the Sault Tribe’s ownership. Liggett is the main investor in the project and owns a majority of Lansing Future Development LLC, the Sault Tribe’s partner in the project.
The Sault Tribe will now apply to the federal government to take the land into trust on behalf of the tribe, enabling it to build a casino there.
“I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to finalize the transfer of land to the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, our partner in this game-changing project,” Bernero said. “While we still have a long way to go, today’s milestone gets us one step closer to building a project that will help boost the economic revitalization of Michigan’s capital city and transform our downtown into a major entertainment destination.”
Berneto added that a casino would “create thousands of good jobs, attract tens of thousands of tourists to the region, and generate enough revenue to allow our city to send all of our school district graduates to college through the Lansing Promise.”
The Tribe is planning to build a $245 million casino in the heart of the city’s entertainment district, next to the region’s main convention center. According to the city and tribe, the 125,000-square-foot casino will create an estimated 1,500 permanent jobs at the property and more than 700 construction jobs.
The Sault Tribe owns five Kewadin Casino properties in the Upper Peninsula.