Casino moves out of Baccarat into Arena District

Casino moves out of Baccarat into Arena District

The often-mocked Baccarat Casino, frequently referred to as one of Edmonton's ugliest buildings, will be torn down and relocated as part of the downtown arena project.

"An ugly, one-storey building like that," said Coun. Scott McKeen. "I'll be glad to see it come down. It'll be a great day"

The Grand Villa, a 60,000-square-foot casino, is already under construction next to the Baccarat, not adjacent to the Winter Garden as several city councillors told CBC News Monday morning.

The Grand Villa and the Baccarat are owned by Gateway Casinos, but that's where the similarity ends, said CEO Tony Santo.

"While you could rightly say we're only moving a few hundred feet down the street, the truth is the Grand Villa will be worlds away."

Santo said the casino will be more of an entertainment space with a fine-dining restaurant and event space.

More than a snack bar

"This is not just a casino like you would see in the Baccarat today, that has one single snack bar. This is a place where people can go, have a good time, be entertained and if you want to gamble you can do that too."

The $32-million casino will open in the summer of 2016. Gateway said the project will create 200 new permanent jobs.

City councillors celebrated the plan to replace the casino, described by Coun. Bryan Anderson as the "ugliest building downtown."

Coun. Mike Nickel said while he wants to make sure no public money is used to build the new casino, he's happy to see the "pink castle" go.

"I remember the history of that building," he said. "It was very controversial at the time. With the revitalization of that whole arena district, Edmontonians are expecting more."

The city plans to transfer the land to the Katz Group for re-development.

"We have a couple of retailers that are interested," said Glen Scott with the Katz Group.

"That's a very prominent corner," said McKeen. "It won't sit empty for long."