Wood River attorney Bradley Lakin is about to get into the casino business along with his wife and other principal investors of the North County Development LLC.
The group proposes building a $350 million casino, hotel, convention center and entertainment complex near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the Spanish Lake area of North St. Louis County.
The LLC's agent, St. Louis attorney Edward Griesedieck III, spoke before the St. Louis County Planning Commission at a public hearing on the matter Aug. 10.
While a reporter from the Madison County Record was not present at the Aug. 10 hearing, a reporter reviewed recordings from that meeting Aug. 27.
In the recordings, Griesedieck, who is the partnership's registered agent, presented the initial plans to the Commission, asking that the floodplain zoning of the property be changed to "C-8" zoning or preliminary use zoning. The zoning would allow the development to proceed to the plan approval stage.
"This is the first step," Griesedieck said on the tapes.
Griesedieck names Bradley Lakin and his wife, Hallie, as principals of the LLC along with Julie McDonald and Ken Goldstein.
The Lakin family has been associated with casinos in the past.
Bradley Lakin's father, Lowell Thomas Lakin, was one of the original investors in the Alton Belle Casino development. He later gave up his law license in 2006 and pled guilty to federal drug charges. He was sentenced to six years in prison and is serving time at the Forrest City Federal Correctional Complex in eastern Arkansas.
McDonald is the daughter of Ricki Jones of Wood River, who was sentenced recently to 15 months in prison on tax evasion charges. His sentence will begin in October.
Throughout his testimony, Griesedieck stressed that the North County Development group would not operate the casino. While he could not say with whom the developers were talking, Griesedieck told the commission that the group was in talks with several casino operators to run the complex's gaming facility if and when it is built.
The 337 acres would, if the current development's form materialized, be home to a casino, 300-room hotel, 18-hole golf course, restaurants, a parking garage and retail outlets. While Griesedieck said the development would likely be a multi-phased project, he told the commission he expected it to take at least two years to build if not more.
The North County Development LLC registered with the Missouri Secretary of State's office in 2002. Griesedieck became the registered agent in 2005.
Hallie Lakin's signature appears on one of the group's documents filed with the Secretary of State.
Griesedieck said Missouri saw the second largest increase in gambling dollars nationally in 2008.
But obstacles to the project could come in the form of Missouri's cap on casino licenses and opposition from community, environmental and church groups to the 337 acre development.
The Spanish Lake Community Association presented 113 petitions with nearly 1,500 signatures opposing then project to the commission Aug. 10 during public testimony.
If the planning commission grants the preliminary zoning and preliminary plan approval, the project would still face a number of tests before it could reach the County Council, which has final say over the matter.