With the St. Charles Parish Council unanimously approving the special permit, the parish could have its second off-track betting location by March.
The permit approval clears the way for the Fair Grounds to become a tenant in Ormond Center One in Destrehan, said Joey Murray, one of the strip mall’s owners. The permit is required to operate off-track establishments in the general commercial-retail sales use district, which was recommended for approval by the parish’s Planning Commission.
The location would be Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Co.’s second location in the parish, with the first in Luling next to Avocado’s Mexican restaurant.
“I think we have a win-win situation,” Murray said. “It brings 8 to 10 jobs to the parish and addition of taxes of $1.1 million over the next five years to the parish.”
Murray said Fair Grounds will move into the location previously occupied by CardioClub, which is being renovated. CardioClub is moving to a building under construction at the corner of Ormond Boulevard.
Locating the tenants this way will ensure their success by improving CardioClub’s visibility and increasing Fair Grounds parking, he said. These changes also will bring Ormond Center One occupancy to 100 percent.
“There is a misconception that an off-track betting facility is like a truck stop and that’s the farthest from the truth,” Murray said.
The location will have toned down signage aimed at letting people know where they are, Murray added. An off-duty deputy will be provided at the site, which he estimated will boost the Sheriff’s Office in salary by $200,000 to $240,000 a year.
Ormond Center One, composed of six retail buildings, has been carefully cultivated for the kind of synergies that keep people coming back to an appealing location, he said.
“My dad and I have been very protective of our spaces,” Murray said. “When we sold to Destrehan Drugs, the building was empty and open. We had the largest pawn shop in New Orleans come to us and ask for the spot and we said, ‘no’.”
They also passed on discount tobacco and alcohol, as well as dollar stores.
“It doesn’t bring synergy to our shopping center,” Murray said. “We want businesses that people visit and then visit again.”
Murray said they’ve owned the location since 1999 and built their first building in 2000. Four years later, they had six buildings there and recently sold the vacant land to Destrehan Discount Pharmacy.