Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

Casino plans target area

October 11, 2007

Edwardsville and Bonner Springs have received a proposal to share a casino-resort project with a price tag nearly that of the grandest Kansas City, Kan., proposal.

If the plan comes to fruition, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville will share an estimated $600 million project proposed by Las Vegas-based Golden Gaming Inc., a 200-acre destination complex that would straddle the towns' boundary at Riverview Avenue west of 110th Street.

The casino, along with a 300-room hotel, resort and spa, would be on the north side, in Edwardsville, while a retail, restaurant and residential district, plus an 18-hole golf course, would sit on the south, Bonner Springs side.

"We believed that the access and visibility of this site in particular, off I-70, was the ideal location for a casino resort of this magnitude," said Rod Atamian, chief financial officer for Golden Gaming.

"Its proximity to the race track and other retail development in that area provides a complement," Atamian said. "We think they'll feed off each other -- that's what it's all about, in trying to provide regional destination."

Atamian said the operation would be the flagship casino for Golden Gaming, which owns four casinos in Colorado and Nevada, and manages the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The proposal envisions a number of upscale and casual restaurants, a convention and meeting space, a retail and residential district, a spa and salon, and entertainment and nightlife venue. The casino would measure 325,000 square feet, with 2,500 slot machines and 95 game tables.

"We're trying to target customers and guests within a day's drive," Atamian said, including from the areas of Dallas, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Amatian said Golden Gaming hoped for a draw "similar to Cabela's, or the Speedway, to really create a regional destination, to really build upon what's already there. Wyandotte County has done a commendable job of stimulating economic growth with that hub there. Our proposal would provide a nice complement to that."

But, Amatian said, the company's interest in drawing long-distance visitors isn't at the expense of wanting to attract local patrons.

"We want to have a nice balance, (so) that locals feel comfortable for a night out," Amatian said.

Golden Gaming has retained hotel-casino planning and design architecture firm Friedmutter Group Inc. of Las Vegas for the project.

"Our vision for Wyandotte County incorporates the culture, landscape and materials unique to the area with the latest in cutting-edge casino resort design," said Albie Colott, director of design for Friedmutter,.

The head of Golden Gaming said the company's smaller size could be an asset.

"We are not here as the largest gaming company competing for a Wyandotte County location, but as a mid-size gaming company best suited to giving this project the time, attention and focus it deserves. We look forward to partnering with the state of Kansas and Wyandotte County," said Blake L. Sartini, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Golden Gaming.

The next step for Golden Gaming is to have the necessary zoning changes made for the property. The Bonner Springs land is zone A-1 agricultural, and the Edwardsville side is agricultural- and residential- zoned. The company will be making presentations to each city's planning commission, in Bonner Springs on Nov. 27. Although the date hasn't yet been confirmed, a hearing is tentatively set for Nov. 19 in Edwardsville.

The deadline for casino proposals to Bonner Springs is Oct. 16, and the Kansas City, Kan., deadline was Sept. 24. The next casino deadline is the state's, Dec. 31, by which each city must submit whatever proposal or proposals it has chosen, if any.

Atamian said the company would begin preparing a detailed market study as part of its application to the state's lottery commission.

Edwardsville Mayor Heinz Rodgers said he liked the proposal.

"We're excited about it," Rodgers said.

"It's very interesting in that it straddles the boundaries of two municipalities," Rodgers said, "neither of which have received the benefit of a state-interested development. That in itself is exciting. It's a well-thought-out, dynamic plan for the use of the land, and unique, compared to any other other submittals we've seen in the county."

Despite the fact that its neighboring city gets the casino, Bonner Springs Mayor Clausie Smith also said he was excited about the project

"I think it would benefit the city and benefit the whole county, as far as the casino is concerned," Smith said. "The revenue is shared with everybody anyway. It looks like a good plan. I don't know how this thing is going to go. I think the Golden Mile (the retail district) shopping plan looks like an excellent proposal."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.