Hard Rock in Fight Over Land for Indiana Project

Though construction is already underway, Hard Rock casinos is fighting court battles over land ownership for its $300 million Gary casino project (l.). Many of the battles are over small land parcels needed by the casino for staging and construction. Owners of the parcels are accusing the casino company of literally bulldozing property they don’t own.

Hard Rock Casino is facing challenges over the ownership of several small land parcels needed to complete its $300 million, 200,000 square foot casino in Gary Indiana.

The battles are being fought out in Circuit Court and involve parcels as small as .04 acres, according to a report in the Times of Northwest Indiana.

Construction on the project began early this year on an about 30-acre site. Spectacle Entertainment, the developer of the project, has purchased several key parcels since December 2018 through its land acquisition arm, Windy City Acquisitions, according to the paper.

However, several small parcels are still being acquired. A lawyer representing one of the small parcel owners charged in court that the company has destroyed a small .04 acre parcel, literally bulldozing the site and fencing it off, denying owners access to the parcel.

Jynell D. Berkshire is an Indianapolis-based attorney representing a trust opened by an heir who is claiming parcel ownership.

Berkshire accused Windy City Acquisitions in a court filing Thursday of “bulldozing” its way through the pending tax deed case — the same way the firm has allegedly “bulldozed its way through destroying the subject parcel.”

“Windy City has, among other things, removed trees, torn down structures on the subject parcel, brought heavy duty equipment onto the subject parcel to remove dirt and reshape the land, and prevented respondent access to the parcel by totally enclosing the parcel inside locked fence,” layers said in court documents.

Rich Zeigler, vice president of development for Spectacle Entertainment, answered the charge in court saying the company had made a mistake fencing off the property as the company is still seeking the tax deed to the property.

The paper outlined several other cases where Spectacle is fighting to acquire small parcels through tax court. Most are pending in tax court and many involve convoluted trails of ownership.