LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Churchill Downs' recent splurge on real estate around its iconic Louisville racetrack gives the company “the flexibility and the options to build something special, and do special things,” Churchill CEO Bill Carstanjen said Monday.

Carstanjen said it’s too soon to say what those things might be, but he wouldn’t rule out a hotel or even a casino, should lawmakers resuscitate discussion of legalized gambling.

WDRB reported earlier this month that Churchill, using a nondescript shell company, had quietly amassed nearly $13 million in houses, empty lots and retail buildings on three sides of the track between December and April.

The obvious use for the real estate is more parking on the peak Kentucky Derby weekend and events like next year’s Breeder’s Cup.

But, “We hope it will have a purpose beyond just parking,” Carstanjen said in his first public comment on the issue Monday.

“We’ve got lots of great ideas on what we’re going to do… We’re not ready to announce anything,” he said.

Carstanjen said a hotel or a casino are “things we’ve talked about” and “considered” in the past.

“There are lots people we need to talk to, there are lots of ordinances and zoning requirements, and we have to work through all that and make sure we have our ducks in a row before we say anything,” he said.

Whatever becomes of the properties, Carstanjen said, “This is all about the customers and all about making their experience on Derby Day that much better, both for the locals and also for the people from all over the world that come and enjoy our facility.”

Churchill Downs paid $500,000 for this home on Homeview Drive. Since WDRB’s initial story was published May 7, Churchill’s affiliated company AQ Properties filed records for its 14th sale, raising the total spent to $13.1 million since December.

Churchill bought the last house it didn’t own on the two blocks of Homeview Drive closest to the track, paying $500,000 for a property valued at $72,250 for tax purposes.  

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.