A plan to build eight casinos in Michigan moving toward November's ballot remains almost as sketchy in financial detail as the day it was announced in April. One of the key features of the proposal is to prescribe eight specific casino locations. So, not only is this a simple question of whether voters approve more gambling houses, it’s also a question of whether voters will approve wealth creation for eight specific sets of landholders.
If the proposal is approved -- and local votes also approved gambling for each site -- landowners would have to become licensed under state gaming laws to obtain casino licenses. Alternatively, they could sell their property to someone else interested in operating a casino -- either way, a considerable profit is in the offing for the owners of these parcels, which the pro-petition group Citizens for More Michigan Jobs identifies as "Michigan developers."
Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad took a look at land and corporate records to address the ownership question ...
CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly reported the ownership of the parcel in DeWitt Township identified in the proposed casino expansion ballot language. The corrected information appears below.
According to the ballot petition language, two sites have been proposed for Detroit, of which one would be tapped:
1. The 2200 block of East Jefferson Avenue near the east riverfront is home to Jefferson Chevrolet. (Property record.)
Jefferson Chevrolet company address is 2130 Jefferson Ave. Its resident agent is James P. Tellier and officers are listed as James, Brian and Sandra Tellier. James Tellier is listed as president of Jefferson Chevrolet on the dealership website. Brian Tellier is listed as general manager on the business website LinkedIn.
2. This property includes the Hotel Pontchartrain across from CoboCenter. The hotel, foreclosed in 2009, was reported as sold in April to Mexican hotel investor Gabriel Ruiz Huerta, with plans to reopen under Crowne Plaza management.
CORRECTION: The former Lansing Factory Outlet Mall is on Clark Road near Old U.S. 27 and Interstate 69 in DeWitt Township north of Lansing. The property is listed with limited family partnerships with the names of George F. and Louis J. Eyde, Lansing-area developers. (Link to Clinton County property records. Note, you must log in as a public user to continue on to the individual deed record.)
Clam Lake Township
The Eldorado Golf Course is located at the mailing address of 7839 E. 461/2 Road in Cadillac, the address in the ballot petition language. The site actually is in Clam Lake Township. Golf course owner Robert W. Meyer Jr. has been identified as lead investor.
According to Golf Now, Meyer designed the course, which opened in 1996.
Birch Run Township
The Birch Run Market Center is located in Birch Run Township, north of Flint. The property was deeded in 2000 to Redstone Birch Run LLC. Its registered address is 6130 W. 56th St. in Fremont. Resident agent is listed as Lori Van Boxel.
Land at Vining and Wick roads near Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus was deeded in 2005 to Sweetwater Gaming, a Wisconsin corporation with an address of 8405 West Forest Home Ave. in Greenfield, Wisc. (Property record.)
Land at M-59 and Interstate 94 in Clinton Township in Macomb County was deeded in 1991 by Trinity Land Development Company to Trinity/Simone Development Company, a Michigan partnership whose address was listed as 21570 Hall Road in Mount Clemens. (Property record.)
It lists Basil T. Simon as its resident agent and an office address of 422 W. Congress in Detroit.
A Grand Rapids parcel at 221 Logan St. SW is home to the old Sligh Furniture complex near Grandville Avenue and Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. It was conveyed in 2001 by Delta Properties to GRL Properties LLC. (Property record.)
GRL Properties lists Robert M. Bohlen as its resident agent and an office address at 130 W. Grand River in Brighton. In 2010, it was cited with $115,000 in proposed penalties for allegedly failing to adequately protect employees and the general public from serious asbestos hazards at the John Bean Building inLansing.
Ted Roelofs worked for the Grand Rapids Press for 30 years, where he covered everything from politics to social services to military affairs. He has earned numerous awards, including for work in Albania during the 1999 Kosovo refugee crisis.