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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Economic development - Trump's French Lick casino

The Louisville Courier-Jounral has a good analysis piece this morning on the French Lick casino, titled "Winner for French Lick? Indiana casino plan thrills residents - Not all analysts think it can succeed." It includes photos of the two hotels, a drawing of the proposed casino, and a map of the area. Some quotes:

When Indiana regulators selected billionaire Donald Trump's company last month to create the state's 11th casino in historic French Lick, orange-shirted supporters cheered the decision as a turning point for the community.

They saw it as good news, particularly on the economic front, for a town whose heyday had come and gone decades ago. In the Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts Inc. proposed $108 million project, Orange County supporters envisioned jobs, long-awaited renovations for two historic but aging hotels, and, ultimately, an economic development tool to propel the Springs Valley back to prominence as a major Midwestern tourist attraction. * * *

Orange County residents say the incentives are much needed in an area whose prosperity peaked roughly eight decades ago.

French Lick was home to resort hotels famous for their spas and mineral springs. The French Lick Springs Resort & Spa and West Baden hotel once catered to clients such as Lana Turner, Bob Hope and Al Capone. The area was a thriving gambling destination with 17 illegal casinos before the Great Depression.

"It was really a fancy place for that time," said Wilma Davis, the Orange County historian. "People came there from all over the world."

Orange County's fortunes plummeted when the stock market crashed in 1929. The area's grand hotels emptied. Gambling illegal then but unofficially allowed survived until 1949 when an order from the governor halted the run.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 5, 2004 08:56 AM
Posted to Indiana economic development