las vegas – underground style.

well i saw it in the ajc today. someone is back with the most colossally stupid idea for downtown revitalization i can think of. according to today’s ajc, a developer is back pitching the idea of turning underground atlanta into a casino.

i rememebr this idea coming up before when i lived in atlanta back in 1999 and i think i remember it being pitched again a few years ago.

i have a feeling there is plenty of research to back me up, though i am not going to go look for it right now, but just on the face of it , i can’t think of anything worse for downtown atlanta than a casino.

maybe a strip club. maybe.

seriously, the point of this post was to query if anyone out there thinks this is a good idea.


how about my downtown guys…ben? rashid?

13 Comments so far

  1. silverrubicon on January 21st, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

    I think it’s a great idea as long as it’s an upscale casino. Of course, the homeless still need to be eliminated and the drug dealers removed from Asher Park but it’s a start. Underground is a colossal failure. Bad restaurants, bad stores and a poorly run mall.

  2. silverrubicon on January 21st, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    I will say that the only downside is it’s proximity to Georgia State University. Although I’m sure the students would rather deal with the random lost tourist than being hit up for money by the bums and lowlifes that frequent the area now.

  3. Tamra (tlt0912) on January 22nd, 2009 @ 2:09 am

    People are so desperate for some meaningful, money-generating development in that spot that just about anything is starting to sound good. But, I can’t imagine video lottery machines being attractive to anyone other than gambling addicts for very long. I get this picture in my head of a fancy place filled with people just staring into those terminals for hours at a time. I just can’t imagine that being much of a draw for tourists. The AJC story was pretty short and I’m sure that details are still scarce at this point, but there was no mention of an entertainment element to the project. People might come for watery drinks and video lottery, but stay for Hall & Oates or REO Speedwagon. I have no idea.

    Maybe O’Leary and Aderhold are just floating the video lottery idea as a test and they’ll try to nudge the ACVB and the GA Lottery Board toward something more authentically "Vegas-style" as the project moves toward fruition.

    The idea of an underground mall didn’t fly, "nightclub destination" fared scarcely any better. You know…I just thought of something. The last time I was there, it had been taken over mostly by trinket vendors and locally-owned businesses. Why couldn’t it be made into a small-business incubator/marketplace? It’s already mostly populated by small businesses anyway, it seems.

    Of course, then you lose the "jewel of downtown" aspect. *Sigh* I don’t know.

  4. bking on January 22nd, 2009 @ 10:51 am

    I’ve been meaning to have a say on this, but I’ve a) been crazy busy with school; and b) my overall impression is pretty ‘meh’. Who can really get that excited about video poker? I don’t think a casino would be the savior of downtown that some people think it could be, but I’m not sure it would be horrible. I think it could be pretty lame, but still attract people because, well, gambling is addictive. I’d want to see an urban design for it that integrates it with the rest of the city and isn’t too insular. If it could get people on the streets I might like it more.

  5. crackwilding on January 22nd, 2009 @ 11:14 am

    Seems like a pretty dumb idea to me. But then, every community in America seems to have stumbled across the notion of revitalizing by turning to casinos. One imagines that there will come a day in which our entire economy is gambling-based.

  6. thedude911 on January 22nd, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

    I would only support this idea if they make it a casino including table games and other types of slots as well as a sportsbook like a REAL casino and not a Cherokee rip off as well. Of course this is a dream that would never come to realization because of all the backwards thinking that goes on in this town. Their arguments are oh there would be an increase in crime. People that say that obviously dont hang out around 5 points much. It would actually clean up the area. The tax money from the sportsbook alone would be incredible and could at first be used to get more cops in that area as well as the rest of this crime ridden city.

    Do you realize that among the largest American cities, Atlanta and I believe Houston are the only cities without easy access to a casino? So yeah its a real dumb idea. They could add a theatre to the site and bring in entertainment. Also they could get rid of all those cheap stores around that area and put in some high end shops. Atlanta is losing tourist money because downtown leaves a lot to be desired and this would improve the area while getting much needed tax dollars for Atlanta.

    I’m not quite sure why people are against it…you couldnt even explain it yourself. If you dont like casinos or are against gambling heres an idea, dont go. Trust me there will be plenty of us that would go.

    What other suggestions do you have for raising some tax money and improving that area at the same time?

  7. Will (atl_will) on January 22nd, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

    Crackwilding, it seems to me like a huge portion of our economy is already based on gambles. Might as well get some free drinks out of it.

    I, for one, would love to have a good, legal poker venue in the ATL.

  8. james hervey (jeherv) on January 23rd, 2009 @ 8:16 am

    i will only say that the research on this topic is mixed, but there is a strong current in the research that says downtown casinos are a net-losing proposition for cities. the harrah’s in new orleans strikes me as a perfectly good example. just google "casino economic effects" and see for yourself.

    i have no moral probalem with gambling at all and enjoy a game of craps from time to time. i think downtown has much more systemic problems that won’t be solved by plopping a casino down in underground.

    i am surprised by the level of support for this though.

  9. rashid on January 23rd, 2009 @ 9:05 am

    I’m not a fan for a few reasons. I’m just going to run them down in a haphazard half-developed manner. Let me qualify this by saying that this is just a general reaction to the idea, not to the specifics which I am not fully aware of.

    Underground is starting to come around. The managers actually paid rent last year because the place finally hit profitability targets. Obviously it has a way to go, but I’d much rather see it come up by figuring out the right mix for customer demand than in such an expensively "cheap" manner. We already have a hotel district and a tourist-focused area near Centennial Park, I think that new hotels should bolster those sectors. I’d rather Underground be more of a place that caters to locals but is acceptable to tourist than it go from a minor tourist trap to an uber tourist trap.

    Outside of access to the 5 points MARTA station, I think that this is a ridiculous place to put a hotel unless you’re a government or GSU contractor. I might feel a little better about it if 5 points weren’t such a disconnected district boxed in by GSU and government buildings. I suppose the MARTA station could mitigate that fact some though.

    I have a feeling that this will only exacerbate the homeless situation and probably have a negative effect on the University student body as well. I’m uneasy with dropping this sort of development in the middle of two populations that would appear to be especially susceptible to the ills of gambling.

    It would also potentially rob GSU of campus housing if the dorms on top of Underground are removed. I also wonder how parents across Ga (where the lions share of GSU students originate) would react to such a presence.

  10. thedude911 on January 23rd, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

    Rashid….great point about GSU I forgot about that. Based on that there is probably no way in hell a casino would ever go in there. However, I think a great alternative location would be in Atlantic Station. At least from my office view, it appears there is quite a bit of empty land over there. But I’m sure the residents over there would put up a fight over it, which I guess I couldnt blame them. Another location would be at the auto plant out near 285/85. Never seen this location, but from my understanding people are looking to develop that area.

  11. jbaker232 on January 24th, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

    This area is sketchy enough currently and will undoubtedly attract only the most lowly scum of the earth once completed. Gambling is seen by many as a tax on the poor, and as Rashid noted, it would certainly exacerbate the homeless problem in that area. The only way this could possibly be a good solution to filling that space is if it was coupled with some serious revitalization including luxury hotels, condos, restaurants, etc. The casino itself would have to be very high-end to boot. Putting in lots of cheap slot machines into a no-cover facility would absolutely be a mistake.

  12. abby on January 26th, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

    Just curious – Rashid, that link was old old. Have you seen any recent figures? All the news I can find about Underground is casino-proposition related, but for all I know, people may actually be frequenting the clubs in Kenny’s Alley.

  13. thedude911 on January 31st, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    By the way…is it true that harrahs owns the old coke museum building as well as other properties in the area?

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