Parking: This Too Shall Pass
Last week the City of Detroit ended its four-year campaign for gaming when its third and final casino, Greektown Casino, received unanimous approval to open from the State Gaming Control Board. Following the vote on Wednesday, Greektown began finalizing its operation and opened to the public on Friday, November 10, 2000 around 11:00 p.m.
The casino, which is located in Detroit’s Greektown entertainment district, features 2,416 slot machines, comprised of 285 video poker machines and 111 bartop games, and 103 game tables, of which 63 are blackjack tables, in its 75,000 square feet of Mediterranean-theme space. Additionally, the opening of Greektown Casino delivered approximately 2,400 new job opportunities for the City of Detroit
Greektown Casino is different from Detroit’s other two casinos, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and MotorCity Casino, because it was constructed in an already established entertainment district – Greektown. In an attempt to feed off the existing energy in the Greektown District, Greektown Casino’s developers designed a facility that encourages its patrons to visit other Greektown merchants for their entertainment needs. In this regard, Greektown Casino did not develop the number of restaurants in its property that are common in other more traditional casino complexes. In addition, it did not construct a massive parking garage to house its visitors. Rather, it developed a parking and restaurant plan that encourages it patrons to interact with Detroit’s downtown. In some cases this has resulted in persons having to walk a number of blocks to reach the casino or use the City’s People Mover. It is this component of the Greektown Casino that has received a great deal of attention as the casino completes its first week of business.
Feedback has been mixed regarding the parking situation. Benjamin Smith, a city development official, reported to the Michigan Gaming Control Board that the Greektown Casino is not to blame for a parking problem that has existed for some time. Guy Hillyer of Millennium Management, hired to oversee the casino’s operations, said casino patrons will have access to 3,400 parking spots during the day and more than 4,000 at night. Furthermore, squabbles over parking should be viewed as encouraging signs of downtown rebound, commented mayoral spokesman Greg Bowens.
Aside from parking, long lines and a new atmosphere, Greektown Casino will now factor into the economic revival of Detroit. It is high time that parking be a problem in the City of Detroit. The success of Detroit will not hang on whether the Greektown Casino patrons can easily park and freely walk into its complex. The success of Detroit will result from the streets of downtown becoming full of potential consumers after corporate business hours. As people begin to walk the streets of Detroit during the night time hours, business entrepreneurs will see opportunities to entice these potential customers. It will not be long before entertainment and shopping merchants develop locations in the areas visitors to Detroit’s downtown are passing to reach Greektown and Detroit’s other entertainment venues.
The creation of Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), Ford Field (scheduled home of the 2002 Detroit Lions), residential housing in Downtown Detroit and the redevelopment of Detroit’s theater district in Harmonie Park along with the many other developments taking place in and around Detroit will result in such enormously popular attractions that people will look forward to fighting for a parking space in order to visit them. It will be at this time in Detroit’s revival that the critics of today will thank Greektown for investing in Downtown Detroit.