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North Side Pittsburgh Community Embraces Majestic Star Casino Approval

North Side Community Officials commented that they are very happy that the Majestic Star Casino won the lone license for slot machine gamesgranted by Pittsburgh. They expect that Don Barden, a Detroit based businessman who owns and manages the casino, will bring in millions of dollars to their area by the year 2009. But for the time being, they are talking about the merits of having a casino in the area rather than the problems that it would cause them.

According to Conference President, Joe Lawrence, the North Side Leadership Conference, a charitable organization that services community groups located in North Side's 14 neighborhoods, has agreed on a deal with Don Barden. In accordance with this deal, for 3 years, Barden is to give $2 million that will be used for housing and business development of the area.

The business development deal will also be put into 3 districts in North Side: Western Avenue, East Ohio Street and the intersection of Federal Street and North Avenue. Lawrence further added that they are happy to have a partner that is committed to cooperating with the communities. They are also optimistic that this agreement will protect the area's neighborhoods.

Executive Director, Mark Fatla, said that the conference is already working on different strategies that will keep undesirable businesses out of the area. Fatla further stated that they are familiar with certain businesses that tend to be built next to casinos and they are not the types of businesses that you would like to be in your neighborhoods: payday lenders, predatory lenders, strip clubs, and used car lots.

Fatla claims that he wants the other kind of businesses that the casino could bring, like restaurants, which would bring more money and jobs to the economy. The conference also plans to work with the Community College of Allegheny County's North Shore Campus to create new training programs so that the people in the community can get jobs at the casino.

A Manchester resident and the President of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania, Doris Carson Williams, said that the whole thing is very exciting and that Barden has a lot of experience in the area. Thus, she is optimistic that the whole thing will succeed. Williams also said that she is planning to ask Barden to make the casino beneficial for small local companies. In addition, she is looking forward to procurement and employment opportunities that the casino will bring now that it is sure to be built in their community. The community should also take this opportunity to move forward as one and make it work for all of their sakes.

Dan Onorato, the County Chief Executive said that he did not expect Barden's Majestic Star to win the license. The other candidates for the license, the Isle of Capri's plan for the Hill District Casino and the Forest City Enterprises' plan to build a slots parlor on Station Square attracted more supporters than the Majestic Star's plan.

Onorato said that they were all surprised when Majestic Star won and that it just goes to show that the system is an open and fair process. He further stated that with this development, North Shore is sure to be an interesting place in the next decade. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl of North Side also congratulated Barden and said that he would immediately create a city-county task to oversee the development in North Side.


Monday, 22 January 2007
Kori Woffendin