Casino land’s future unclear as Pinellas firm buys complex for $3M

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

An executive with a Florida company buying the former Harrah’s property in Tunica County says the company doesn’t know yet what it will do with the complex.

“Over the next few months, TJM will be deciding how to best reposition the property,” wrote Matt McCarthy, TJM Properties’ director of operations and acquisitions, in an email. “Although the exact details are still being sorted out, TJM is considering both reopening the property, or selling parcels to interested buyers.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar on Nov. 2 approved plans by Caesars Entertainment Corp. to sell most of the former Harrah’s to TJM Properties for $3 million. The Clearwater, Florida, company was the only bidder for hotels and associated buildings. Jan Jones Blackhurst, a spokeswoman for Caesars, said the sale is expected to close within the next 60 days, as the nation’s largest casino operator tries to pare down $20 billion in debt.

TJM will acquire two hotels with more than 1,000 rooms, a convention center, golf course, shooting range, RV park and kids arcade. The 2,200-acre campus opened in 1996 as Grand Casino Tunica. Caesars laid off about 1,000 workers when it closed Harrah’s in June 2014. It still operates the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino and Tunica Roadhouse Casino & Hotel nearby.

Caesars tore down the former casino barge earlier this year, saying it wanted to cut out lease payments to the Clarksdale-based Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board. But board attorney John Henson of Greenwood said Wednesday that Caesars is still leasing land on the Mississippi River side of the levee from the board. A third, 148-room hotel sits on that property, and if Caesars stopped lease payments, the levee board could take it over. Blackhurst said she didn’t know the company’s plans for the hotel.

It’s the third former casino that TJM has bought from Caesars. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the company bought the Claridge for $12.5 million in 2013 and the Atlantic Club for $13.5 million. The company reopened the Claridge as a hotel without a casino, while it has been trying to sell the Atlantic Club to a Pennsylvania developer whose plans include a water park and beach bar.

Controlled by Clearwater businessman Terence J. McCarthy, TJM owns a total of six hotels and four senior living centers. It sold 15 senior living centers for $200 million to Fortress Investment Group in 2013.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press. 

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