Thursday, May 4, 2000 | 11:15 a.m.
Despite concerns from residents, the North Las Vegas City Council opened the door Wednesday for Station Casinos Inc. to build Craig Ranch Station on Martin Luther King Boulevard just south of Craig Road.
Though members said they sympathized with residents' concerns about the proximity of the site to residential areas, most agreed that the matter was out of their hands because the land is zoned for gaming.
Station said April 18 it signed a long-term lease for the property and that it expected to spend $100 million to $150 million on what it calls a smaller version of its typical Las Vegas-area hotel-casinos.
Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2001 and be completed before the end of 2002.
North Las Vegas Council member William Robinson pointed out a judge has ruled that a casino must be permitted for that area, and that "the council is put in a position that we really don't have a choice."
Because the council could not vote against allowing the casino, the members instead had to vote what type of casino to allow. With the approval, Station was granted 30 percent more gaming space than what was originally approved in 1998 with NevStar Entertainment Corp., which wanted to build NevStar 2000.
The city initially denied NevStar's plans but was later forced to grant the special use permit after a District Court judge ruled the council's decision was "arbitrary and capricious" because the land is zoned for gaming.
Though the NevStar plan fell through as NevStar filed for bankruptcy protection and Station has since revamped the site plan, planning commissioners still expressed concerns about the location last month. By a 4-3 vote, the members granted Station a one-year extension of the license to complete construction and amend the original NevStar plans.
With the council's approval, the gaming will grow from 47,000 square feet to 69,000 square feet.
Bonnie Kelley and her daughter Denise spoke out against the casino, saying that if it was going to be granted a permit, gaming should be limited as outlined in the NevStar plan.
Lori Judd expressed similar concerns, saying "I don't want it. This was supposed to be our perfect dream home and all of the sudden we're going to have drunk traffic."
After the decision, the residents could be heard shouting to Station representatives, "Do you want to buy our house back? Because we don't want it."
Council member Shari Buck said that because the matter had already been decided in the courts she would support allowing the casino, and would also support its expanded gaming so as not to "build a project that's destined to fail."
Station representative Scott Nielson said the increase in gaming is essential to providing the economics that will support other amenities such as restaurants and movie theatres.
Nielson pointed out that the city would benefit from the project, which would create 1,300 jobs and generate $1.1 million in tax revenue.
Staff reports say the property will feature a 69,000-square-foot casino, a five-story, 200-room hotel, 10 theatre screens and more. The project would sit on nearly 34 acres now owned by Desert Mesa Land Partners Ltd.
Future expansion of approximately 138,500 square feet of gaming, restaurants, retail, meeting and entertainment space is shown in the staff reports.