LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After six years of delays, haggling, and setbacks, ground is finally broken for a brand new lake area casino.
It's been a long time coming, but the land next to L'Auberge is finally being developed. It began as Sugar Cane Bay, then it became Mojito Pointe. But after a recent sale, it is now Ameristar Lake Charles.
Experts say the economy in southwest Louisiana is doing well compared to other places. As of Wednesday, the economy will soon get another boost as construction began on Ameristar Lake Charles.
"It's going to be another good adventure for increasing economic development and jobs, and strengthening a broad base for the economy here in Lake Charles," said Ameristar CEO Gordon Kanofsky.
Yates Construction out of Mississippi will build the casino, but they will hire around 1,800 people locally. Once finished, 1,500 permanent jobs will be available. Kanofsky says that's the most important part of Ameristar.
"At Ameristar, our job is to make sure our team members are happy motivated, and therefore will give the kind of service to our guests that we want the guests to appreciate and experience," said Kanofsky. "We call it love our team members, love our guests."
The resort will be right alongside L'Auberge, something Kanofsky says is beneficial to both casinos.
"It really creates a resort community for Lake Charles," said Kanofsky. "L'Auberge has done a great job of building clientele coming in from Houston and Beaumont and other places from a couple of hundred mile radius, but having the two facilities side by side, we'll really be able to take advantage of the 6-7 million adults within a couple hundred miles of Lake Charles."
But he says Ameristar will be a little different than what Lake Charles currently has to offer.
"We're going to try to do a few things a little bit better, and we'll differentiate ourselves with the product a little bit," said Kanofsky. "But again, it's going to be the service at the end of the day that's going to turn people around."
Creative Casinos recently sold their Mojito Pointe project to Ameristar for this casino. CEO Dan Lee attended the ground breaking.
"It's exciting," said Lee. "I'm glad to see it happening. It is a little bit bittersweet. Even today, I don't really have to be here, but I'm happy to be here, and I'll be back here for the grand opening."
Lee says while he wishes he could drive the bulldozer himself, turning the project over was the best decision for everyone involved.
"I wanted to make sure it was successful," said Lee. "I wanted to make sure it was a success for the community, so frankly turning it over to Ameristar was the right thing to do."
Ameristar will have a strict time frame to finish construction on the project.
They plan to hold a grand opening just two years from now in July of 2014. No word yet on when the hiring process will begin.