The Horseshoe Casino is a big, shiny new attraction near some old Cincinnati neighborhoods. It is right across the street from Pendleton and within walking distance of Over-the-Rhine. So what do those communities think of the casino now that it has been open for a year?
“On a scale of one to ten, I would give them a ten,” said Tabatha Anderson, the current president of the Pendleton Neighborhood Council. “If I could give them higher I would.”
Anderson is also the office manager for Mr. Bubbles Detailing, a business in Pendleton that has benefited from the casino. She said some customers will bring their cars in for a wash and then head across the street to the casino while they wait. Anderson said the casino has been a fabulous community partner.
“There has been a huge development boom in Pendleton, which is great to see some of these abandoned, blighted buildings being rehabbed. I know a lot of these developments are being geared towards the casino workers. So there’s a plan in place. Like I said, there’s a lot of new development going on, a potential hotel at the old SCPA (School for the Creative and Performing Arts). I think all of this is made possible because that casino is there. So now we are, or we feel like we’re, Cincinnati’s diamond in the rough.”
Sidewalks, lighting and streets were improved in Pendleton before the casino’s opening. Work is underway to remake a plaza at Spring and 12th Streets. A couple of new businesses are already open, and Anderson said more are being discussed including a pub and a laundromat.
Anderson said the new development is also leading some owners to rehab their lower-income rental properties.
While she has high praise for the casino, she is less enthusiastic about the response from city hall. Anderson said that has been a problem.
“When the whole casino thing was proposed, Pendleton is going to reap the benefits and it’s going to be fabulous,” Anderson said. “Well we’re still waiting for the rest of the ‘lous’ that should be tacked on to the end of ‘fab.’ We’re just waiting. We’re going back and forth to city hall every other week saying ‘hey we have things we need.’ All this new development is great, but where do you park these folks at?”
Anderson would like to see a new parking structure and more green space for the neighborhood. Money for those improvements was supposed to come from a Tax Increment Financing district set-up for the casino. But Anderson said the city will not tell the neighborhood council how much money is in the fund. And the city did take some of the TIF money to help cover the additional construction costs of the streetcar project.
Meanwhile, the head of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council also gives the casino high marks. President Peter Hames rates it between an eight and a nine.
“You know I think they really understand that their business is about customer service. So they appreciate the need to have a good experience for the people who come to visit them as well as the people who live in the neighborhood right next to the casino.”
Hames said the neighborhood has benefited from city projects related to the casino including the 13th Street improvements, which are being made to connect the Main/Sycamore area with Washington Park. That could draw more casino patrons into Over-the-Rhine.
“The question of what do the casino customers do before they go to the casino or after they go to the casino is a question that I’m not aware of anyone having the answer on,”
The casino is an active partner in a working group the city set-up before the facility opened to meet with nearby neighborhoods. They continue now that the casino is open.