Thursday, July 9, 1998 | 11:07 a.m.
Construction workers Wednesday started preparing a 39-acre patch of vacant desert next to Henderson's Galleria mall for a long-delayed Santa Fe Gaming Corp. hotel-casino.
Workers driving large construction vehicles and spray trucks began leveling the site, clearing brush and rocks for an anticipated groundbreaking.
Andrew Klebanow, Santa Fe Gaming's marketing director, declined detailed comment on the activity or how Santa Fe will finance the $130 million project. The project has been talked about for years, with groundbreaking always awaiting financing.
"I cannot comment on the hotel's groundbreaking," Klebanow said. "The corporation is in what is referred to as a 'quiet period."'
But Klebanow confirmed that the workers were preparing the site for a Santa Fe hotel-casino.
"To my knowledge, yes, there is activity scheduled for this week," he said.
The construction workers said they were "brushing" rocks and desert plants out of the way in preparation to build a big hotel. They said they had been shown plans for a Santa Fe resort that show the main hotel building set about 200 feet north of Sunset Road, with parking stretching north of the building to Galleria Drive, and east to Marks St. There will be entrances from Sunset, Marks and Galleria, the workers said.
Judy Mitchell, a supervisor in Henderson's building permit department, said the company recently received a grading permit, necessary before construction can begin; and paid $1.5 million in water, sewer, building and transportation fees at the end of June.
A foundation permit will likely be issued next week, and a building permit for the hotel-casino will follow about eight weeks later, Mitchell said.
In February, Henderson's City Council approved Santa Fe Gaming plans for a 290-room hotel and 73,000-square-foot casino. Plans also include an 1,886-seat ice skating rink, a 1,000-seat theatre, 34,000 square feet of restaurant space, 12,500 square feet of office space, and 4,000 square feet of retail space, planning officials said.
Klebanow said Santa Fe will build its planned ice rink.
Sunset Station across the street and the Galleria mall next to the Santa Fe site both have also announced plans for ice rinks.
"Everyone says they're going to build an arena, but not everyone does," Klebanow said. "We will."
Santa Fe's ice rink plans have been approved by Henderson planning officials. Neither Station Casinos nor the Galleria have submitted ice rink plans for approval, officials said.
Klebanow did not confirm the project's official name. Signs at the site announce that "Santa Fe Valley" will open in December, 1999. But the plan on file with Henderson officials titles the project Santa Fe Galleria Hotel & Casino.
Santa Fe and the Galleria mall this year terminated controversial plans to link the Santa Fe hotel-casino with the mall.
Santa Fe Gaming's flagship Santa Fe hotel-casino in the Northwest Las Vegas Valley has been performing well, posting a 17 percent increase in revenue to $18 million for the quarter ended March 31. But the company lost $4.3 million, or 69 cents per share in the quarter. The loss was due in part to tough competition for Santa Fe's Pioneer hotel-casino in Laughlin.