The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians may not be able to say when it will break ground on a new tribal village and casino in South Bend, Indiana; it has however reached agreements with city officials that spell out how residents and the city’s government will share in the future gaming revenue.
On Wednesday, city officials and tribal leaders announced that two agreements were reached related to the Pokagons’ plans for the $400 million development on South Bend’s southwest side after approximately 18 months of negotiations.
Approved Tuesday by the South Bend Board of Public Works, the first agreement will enable the city to provide water and sewer services to the 166-acre site. Under the agreement, the Pokagon will contribute $400,000 to help South Bend replace and upgrade the Calvert Street Lift Station. Stipulated in the second agreement, the tribe will pay the city government 2 percent of the casino’s annual net win in lieu pf property taxes. If the casino has between 850 and 1,699 games, the annual payments will not be less than $1 million, and if the casino has 1,700 or more games, will not be less than $2 million. Half of that amount will go to South Bend’s general fund. The other half will be sent to the city’s Redevelopment Commission to support initiatives focused on addressing poverty and unemployment and improving educational opportunities. Also listed in the second agreement is $5 million in donations to be made by the Pokagon to local organizations and initiatives over a five-year period following the opening of the casino.
Because the draft environmental impact statement of the Pokagons’ trust land application is still being reviewed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, John Warren, chairman of the Dowagiac-based tribe, could not say exactly when construction would begin on the South Bend development. In order to start construction the tribe needs the bureau’s approval.
As proposed, the Pokagons’ South Bend development would have government offices and health service for tribal members and 44 housing units. In addition, the development would have a full-service Four Winds Casino and a 500-room, 18-story hotel with parking deck and meeting space. The project is expected to generate approximately $620 million in annual revenue and create 2,000 permanent casino and hotel jobs, as well as 1,400 construction jobs.
Currently, two organizations have been formed to support and oppose the Pokagons’ plan in South Bend. Opposing the casino is Citizens for a Better Michiana while the Michiana Pokagon Alliance supports the efforts of the tribe to restore its land in South Bend.