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Arnold M. Knightly


At last, Durango Station details

21 Jul 2008

By Arnold M. Knightly

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Jackie Guinn is tired of looking at the big sign promising a Station Casinos project near her home.

Since moving into the Rhodes Ranch master-planned community in 2003, Guinn has wondered when 70 vacant acres on Durango Drive just south of the Las Vegas Beltway would become the promised hotel and casino.

"That sign was there before my place was even built," said Guinn. "I kept looking at the sign, looking at the sign."

Guinn received her answer this week during a community open house at Red Rock Resort where Station Casinos unveiled plans to break ground on Durango Station Resort and Casino next year, with a 2011 opening.

The first phase will include a 201-room hotel tower, casino, meeting space, pool, restaurants, movie theater, arcade and a large shopping complex.

An additional 525 hotel rooms are planned for a second phase although the company has not set a construction date yet.

The company isn't releasing a projected cost for the project.

Plans for the 190,000-square-foot outdoor retail center adjacent to the resort will be submitted to Clark County officials next week. Durango Station will be the first time the company has built a large-scale retail development as part of one of its hotel-casinos.

Station Casinos is in the final stages of signing a joint-venture partner to help develop and operate the retail complex, company spokeswoman Lori Nelson said.

The retail complex's design will be similar to the one for The District at Green Valley Ranch, company officials said. The District was constructed after Green Valley Ranch Resort opened in December 2001 and was built by a subsidiary of the Greenspun Corp.

Company officials did tell the nearly 300 homeowners that attended the open house that the proposed project will be "subject to market conditions."

For instance, the day after the open house, nearly $4 billion worth of Station Casinos debt was downgraded by New York-based Moody's Investor Service. Moody's made the move because of the sharp decline in the Las Vegas gaming revenues during the past few months.

Station Casinos also is carrying nearly $3.2 billion worth of debt following the company's $5.4 billion management-led buyout that closed in November.

Despite the economic slowdown, the company began interviewing applicants on Monday to fill positions at the $675 million Aliante Station, which opens Nov. 11 in North Las Vegas.

Station Casinos purchased the 70-acre Durango site from homebuilder Jim Rhodes in 2000 for an undisclosed amount. Rhodes had set aside the parcel on the outskirts of the Rhodes Ranch master-planned development in the southwestern valley.

Rhodes Ranch resident Janice Mullins said during the open house that she is looking forward to the project being built but is concerned about possible traffic congestion along Durango Drive and the surrounding neighborhood.

"The project itself looks like a very nice project to complement the area," Mullins said.

Guinn said it will be nice to finally have a hotel nearby where friends and family can stay when visiting. Now she has to travel to The Orleans or Red Rock Resort to find accommodations.

Guinn said she hopes the mixed-use development will spur other development in the area including some more common areas promised by Rhodes.

"They were supposed to build a park out there five years ago," Guinn said. "Maybe once this is all said and done then somebody can get out there and get that park in place."

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