Friday, May 14, 2004 | 10:44 a.m.
The Cannery Casino has received final city approvals to add a 14-plex movie theater and an 1,800-space parking garage to the property as part of a $35 million expansion project.
The North Las Vegas Planning Commission on Wednesday voted to approve the expansion Wednesday. One member of the planning commission abstained from voting over a conflict of interest. The project doesn't require a City Council vote.
An 85,000-square-foot building consisting of the movie theater as well as a fast-food area, bingo hall and offices should open by fall 2005. About 15,000 square feet of extra casino space on the north side of the casino are expected to open by January 2005. The Cannery opened in January 2003 as the first major casino to debut in about two years.
Demand for services in North Las Vegas has led to the expansion, said Bill Paulos, who owns the Cannery with partners Bob Mendenhall and Bill Wortman.
"We had space to expand if business warranted it," he said.
Housing and business growth around Craig Road has been dramatic over the past few years, he said.
"The rooftops in that particular ZIP code have been multiplying quite dramatically. North Las Vegas is growing by leaps and bounds and is a terrific place to be."
The casino's first six to eight months in operation were a bit below expectations because of the sluggish economy and the Iraq war, he said. But business in recent months has been strong as the economy has rebounded, he added.
The expansion isn't aimed at heading off present and or future competition but is intended to serve the immediate market within a several-mile radius, he said. The nearest movie theaters are at least seven miles away at Station Casinos Inc.'s Texas Station and Santa Fe Station.
The 201-room hotel has so far performed better than expected, running at an occupancy of more than 90 percent, he said.
Hotel guests are a diverse mix of business people, people visiting area residents and military customers affiliated with Nellis Air Force Base, he said.
The growth of nearby businesses and housing construction also has boosted hotel visits.
Entertainment continues to be an important part of the property's marketing plan, he said. The indoor-outdoor events center has held everything from car shows to music festivals and will debut "major entertainment," such as headliners, later this year, he said.
The Cannery Casino did a good job marketing itself prior to opening and the property has been able to deliver on the buzz, said Sharon Powers, chief executive of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't think there was every a doubt in anyone's mind" that the property would do well, she said. "All you have to do is look at the numbers in that area, with residential and business going in there. And there's a real need for a movie theater on that side of town."
From October 2003 through April 2004, the city of North Las Vegas issued 3,335 permits for single family homes and permits for 734 units of multifamily housing. That compares to 2,063 permits for single-family homes and 300 units of multifamily housing for the same period a year earlier.