Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

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North Las Vegas, Henderson flooded with casino applications

The North Las Vegas and Henderson planning departments are being deluged with plans for new resorts as a deadline draws near as mandated by a 1997 law designed to limit the proliferation of neighborhood casinos.

Most planning departments receive just a few such proposals each year.

Landowners who have not received approvals for casino projects by Dec. 31 will face a litany of tough new requirements, and in some cases could be prohibited outright from developing gaming establishments on their property.

Dec. 31 may be nearly three months away, but developers who don't file their plans within the next couple of weeks will miss deadlines to get their projects in front of city councils or the county commission by year's end.

As a result, local planning departments are seeing more casino project filings than normal.

A lot more.

"We've gotten more in the last two weeks than in the seven years I've been here," said Marc Jordan, associate planner for North Las Vegas.

Indeed, North Las Vegas seems to be far ahead of other local municipalities in terms of the number of applications it has received. No fewer than nine hotel-casino projects have been either approved or proposed for North Las Vegas in recent months.

Henderson has also seen its share of recent hotel-casino project proposals. At least four applications have been submitted for new projects in recent months.

"They are timing their applications so that they receive their approvals before the December deadline," said Bristol Ellington, assistant director of the Henderson Planning Department.

Clark County has also seen four new proposals in recent months, all along or near Koval Lane east of the Las Vegas Strip. However, Clark County planning officials say receiving a flurry of proposals for new casino projects is not outside their experience.

"From our perspective it seems to us to be pretty much business as usual," said Lesa Coder, assistant director of the Clark County Planning Department.

The City of Las Vegas appears to be completely unaffected by the trend.

"We haven't received any applications for casinos or resorts," said Las Vegas Planning Department spokeswoman Sonia Douglas. "And we haven't the year prior as well. It is the normal thing, we usually don't get very many of those at all."

Despite the mixed reports, no less than 17 new casino resorts have been proposed to local planning departments in recent months, most intended to beat the Dec. 31 deadline imposed by the 1997 law -- Senate Bill 208.

"The only reason why we're doing it is because of SB 208," said David Sigmond, a real estate consultant who represents owners of three different proposed North Las Vegas projects.

"The Scottsdale Lodge is somewhat being dictated by the SB 208," said Ian Ross, a partner in a North Las Vegas casino project by that name.

According to the provisions of the new law, developers with property more than 1,500 feet from the Las Vegas Strip, 1,500 feet from lower Boulder Highway, or outside of the metro Las Vegas area who do not have their casino plans approved by Dec. 31 will face stringent new development guidelines.

Any property within 500 feet of a developed residential area will be flatly prohibited from being developed as a casino, as will any property within 1,500 feet of a school or church.

Any developer whose property does not fall into an exempted zone must prove their casino "will not be detrimental to the health, safety or general welfare of the community or be incompatible with the surrounding area." Whatever argument a developer musters to meet that subjective test must convince a three-quarters majority of a municipality's governing body, such as its city council or the Clark County Commission.

Exempted from the act are expansions of existing casinos, casinos located outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area, or casinos within 1,500 feet of the Strip or the Boulder Highway between Race Track Road and Railroad Pass. The act also allows local municipalities to designate gaming enterprise zones exempt from the act prohibitions.

From north to south, the 17 new projects are:

--Three resorts proposed by David Sigmond. At the northeast corner of Losee and Severence, Sigmond represents Garth Frehner's application for a 200-room hotel and 62,400 square foot casino. Sigmond is also representing Frehner's application for a 200-room hotel and 56,000-square-foot casino at the southeast corner of Craig and Frehner. And Sigmond is representing attorney William Morse's application for a 200-room, 98,000-square-foot casino at the northeast corner of Craig and Losee to be called Lone Mountain Mesa.

Themes have not been developed for the three projects, and it's too early to tell how much they will cost, said Sigmond. All three proposals go before planning commissioners Oct. 14.

--Two projects near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. One, proposed by Elk Investments southwest of I-15 and Deer Springs Road, would include a truck stop, 40,000-square-foot casino and 389-room hotel. The other, proposed by Speedway LLC for the other side of I-15, would include a truck stop, a 208-room motel and a 43,000-square-foot casino. Both were approved earlier this year.

--Scottsdale Lodge, a 200-room hotel and casino at the northeast corner of Craig and Bruce, owned by Braceland Partners Ltd. Scottsdale Lodge will be extensively landscaped and will cost about $20 million, said Ross. Scottsdale Lodge goes before the North Las Vegas Planning Commission Oct. 28.

--NevStar 2000, a large entertainment complex planned by NevStar Gaming Corp. southwest of the corner of Martin Luther King and Craig. The resort will have a 37,460-square-foot casino, 200 hotel rooms, a 60-lane bowling alley, 20,000 square feet of meeting space and 12-18 movie theatres. It will likely bear an entertainment or sports theme, said Ross, also a partner in the NevStar proposal. NevStar 2000 goes to the planning commission Oct. 14.

--A 200-room hotel and 20,300 square foot casino at the northeast corner of Cheyenne and Losee owned by Los Angeles-based Hart/Vollard Enterprises LLC. The project was approved in August.

--A 15,200-foot casino addition to the existing Cheyenne Hotel at the northwest corner of Cheyenne and Civic Center Drive. The Cheyenne is owned by Banter Corp. The addition was approved in July.

--Olympic Sunrise, a 39-story, 2,500-room resort with a 116,000-square-foot casino at the southeast corner of Sands and Koval. Olympic Sunrise, proposed by owner Sunrise Apartments, would also include a 26,000-square-foot showroom. The project was approved by the Clark County Planning Commission in September.

--The Caribbean, a 40-story, 3,076-room resort with a 70,000-square-foot casino on Flamingo east of Koval. The resort, owned by the Heers Family Trust, would also include a 125,000-square-foot convention center. The Caribbean was approved in July.

--A 33-story, 2,500-room resort with a 100,000 square foot casino planned by Harvey's Casino Resorts for the northeast corner of Harmon and Koval. The Harvey's project was approved in June.

--A 698-room time-share hotel with a 10,000 square foot casino planned by the James and Toni Bayer Family Trust for Harmon east of Koval. The project was approved in July.

--Sunset Beach, a 210-room, 16,500-square-foot casino proposed by Roadhouse casino owner Robert McMackin for Sunset east of I-95. The proposal was killed by the Henderson City Council in July.

--Gaim-Ko, a 200-room hotel and 38,000-square-foot casino proposed by Gaim-Ko Inc. for Boulder Highway at Race Track Road. The Gaim-Ko project was killed by the Henderson City Council in April.

--A 72-acre complex called the Vineyards, planned by the Dunn Co.s for the southwest intersection of Warm Springs and Gibson in Henderson. The Vineyards would contain three hotels, one of which would include a casino. The recently proposed project will be heard by planning commissioners in October or November.

--A 210-room casino resort with bowling lanes and movie theatres proposed by Boyd Gaming Corp. at Eastern and Lake Mead in Henderson. Boyd spokesman Rob Stillwell said the company is in negotiations to buy the 13.8-acre site from developer Gil Strange, a deal believed to be contingent on Boyd's plan gaining city approval. Boyd's plans will likely be heard within the next two months.

Station Casinos had the site in escrow in July. But Station appears to have dropped its bid for the property. Station officials declined comment.

In addition to Sigmond, representatives of the Boyd, Speedway LLC, Hart-Vollard, Scottsdale Lodge and NevStar 2000 projects all conceded that the SB 208 deadline prompted them to file proposals earlier than planned. Representatives of the other projects did not return calls for comment.

Most who did comment said final plans and project costs have largely not been determined, nor have construction time frames. Sigmond said his three projects will not likely be built until 2000 or 2001.

"We're really doing this to protect our present position," said Sigmond.

However, developers who successfully beat the project application deadline will then face another SB 208-imposed deadline: Projects approved by Dec. 31 must be built and have a non-restricted gaming license by Dec. 31 2002.