Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Columnist Jeff Simpson: Station is eager for a local casino location in NLV

Station Casinos apparently isn't content to wait for Aliante.

Casino industry insiders have long believed that Station Casinos will have the inside track when it comes time for a casino operator to partner with the developer of Aliante in North Las Vegas.

But a top Las Vegas casino executive says the locals casino giant has been talking recently with Jack Binion about opening a Station-branded casino at a North Las Vegas site the Binion family owns near the northwest corner of Centennial Parkway and Losee Road. Binion's plans for the site include 1.7 million square feet of commercial space, including a hotel, movie theaters and five anchor stores.

The site is just south of the yet-to-be-completed Las Vegas Beltway and east of the eastern boundary of Aliante.

Pulte Homes and American Nevada are partners in North Valley Enterprises LLC, the developer of Aliante. American Nevada is owned by the Greenspun family, which owns the Las Vegas Sun. Station and the Greenspuns already co-own Green Valley Ranch as well as Barley's brew pub on Sunset Road, with Station operating the properties.

Green Valley Ranch is a hugely successful resort. When the Aliante developers decide, as they've said they eventually will, to announce a casino partnership, that operator would also be expected to do quite well.

"Jack's got one of the corners, and Station's been talking to him," the executive said. "Everyone thought they'd wait to build at Aliante, but they'd have to split it 50-50. If they build on their own on Jack's site, they'd get to keep 100 percent."

Speaking of Station, a proposed new superarterial could threaten the traffic flow into and out of the company's Rancho Road lineup of casinos.

Preliminary discussions by local transportation officials about converting Rancho into a Desert Inn Road-style throughway with limited access has captured the attention of Station brass.

While Station executives say that they are totally in favor of improving traffic flow in and around the valley, they plan to watch and wait to see how the project -- which could take as long as two decades to complete -- would affect their properties.

Station owns Palace Station on Sahara Avenue near the southern end of the proposed Rancho superarterial. Further north on Rancho are Station's Wildfire minicasino, and its Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho and Santa Fe Station casinos.

Station bosses remember all too well the construction disruption they faced a few years ago at Palace Station when Sahara Avenue was being widened near Interstate 15. That project slowed traffic and hurt Palace Station's business.

"It's an interesting concept," said Lori Nelson, Station's top communications boss. She said it is too early in the planning process for the company to stake out a position for or against the proposed project, but that Station will keep a close eye on developments.

"Our business model centers on convenience and easy access to our properties," Nelson said.

MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni says the Strip giant is unfazed by talk of a high-end condominium glut near Las Vegas Boulevard.

In fact, he said, the company has expanded its plans for residential units at its $5 billion-plus CityCenter development, and now expects to include about 690 units as part of the retail component of the project to be built south of Bellagio.

Bill Paulos told me in October that he wasn't quite ready to say where he and partner Bill Wortman planned to build their next Cannery-branded casino.

The time is now right. Last week he told Sun gaming reporter Liz Benston that the next location will be at a site on Boulder Highway. Wortman co-owns the Nevada Palace site, just east of Sam's Town. The Cannery owners have yet to release a timetable for the new project that would capitalize on the brand of their Craig Road property in North Las Vegas.

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