More Steps Toward Hollywood Casino
A recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune was directed at gambling connoisseurs about the impending opening of the new Hollywood Casino to Ledo Road, between Fashion Outlets Drive and Kansas Expressway. The article describes how the Hollywood Casino, which will be located on a piece of property where there is an old California gold mine, will be developed into a 4-star hotel, restaurant, and perhaps a casino.
“I am sure that the managers of the Hollywood Casino are thinking of everything when they design the atmosphere of the place,” says Marc Verrier, a former assistant to Gov. Pete Wilson, who is a past chair of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There will probably be a restaurant, too, along with a couple of lounges.” But, says Verrier, it will be hard to swallow that the place where the gold was extracted by Native Americans in the late nineteenth century will serve as a gigantic casino.
The state has some say in the matter, since the Disney Company that owns the land where the Hollywood Casino will be built, owns the land and buildings and will be the entity responsible for the design and landscaping of the property. But, says Conklin, “What really interests me about this particular area is what people will do with the old mine. This is going to be a great park, and the visitors will be very pleased.”
He explains that, once the studio is done with its renovation of the area around the movie palace, which they’re planning to take up to two years, it will sell the old mine to the state and turn it into a nature preserve. That will be a win-win situation for everyone, and the MGM mine tours that will take guests through the mine shaft and the mine museum will be a big hit with kids, he says.
What’s more, according to the city of San Diego, the Hollywood Casino is slated to be one of the first properties to open in the downtown area near the L.A. River and Interstate 5. The area surrounding the home of Lakers basketball team owner Jerry Buss, who is a big supporter of local public works projects, is in the early stages of a major revitalization, says Ron McFadden, a spokesman for the city. A large portion of the site has been torn up for parking lots, street work, and businesses such as Gourmet Express.
And, even though the state has control over the site, McFadden says, the city would be willing to allow the casino to be situated there, as long as the company agrees to use an existing utility line. “If we do decide to allow them to be at the site, then they will be required to pay for the utility hookup,” he says.
Local officials aren’t sure about whether they will allow the L.A. Clippers basketball team to play a regular season game in the area around the Hollywood Casino, but they do want to ensure that the area becomes a destination for tourists, says Mayor Tom McLeod. “We’d love to have the Lakers and the Clippers here, but we also need to make sure we get the traffic into the downtown area,” he says.
There are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved before the Hollywood Casino can open in October, including the creation of a tourist attraction around the property, but the city is optimistic about the way things are progressing and says that the “Potrero Hill region is coming back to life.” Until then, though, restaurants like the Oceanside Grille and Grill and Pizza Capri are open for business on California Street, and not too many locals are ready to visit the upscale restaurant or the elitist wine bar.