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Howard Stutz

Paragon Gaming's Vancouver casino project under construction after five-year wait

9 June 2015

Casino operator Paragon Gaming has begun construction on a long-planned $600 million hotel-casino complex in Vancouver, British Columbia, that was scuttled in 2011 but revived nearly 2½ years later.

Scott Menke, president of Las Vegas-based Paragon, said the development, called Parq Vancouver, is fully financed and will be the province’s largest private development. It is expected to open in 2016.

Paragon, which took over management of the Westgate Las Vegas this month, has been involved with the proposed Vancouver project for more than five years. The development in downtown Vancouver is adjacent to the 60,000-seat BC Place Stadium, but faced a vocal grass-roots opposition.

“Vancouver is one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations, and this remarkable property will not only reinvigorate part of downtown Vancouver, but also provide visitors and residents with an entertainment destination that rivals the best anywhere,” Menke said in a statement.

The Vancouver City Council rejected the casino in 2011 after residents voiced their displeasure. However, the project was revived in 2013 when the city and Paragon agreed to a scaled-back proposal that reduced the scope of development. The lease agreement included a 70-year term with $3 million in annual payments.

A key to the project’s revival was a reduction in size of the casino from 1,100 slot machines and 200 table games. The new casino is 72,000 square feet with 600 slot machines and 75 table games.

Paragon operates the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, which will be closed. Parq Vancouver will have the only casino in the city and will be the largest casino in western Canada.

Paragon is headed by Diana Bennett, daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett. The company is a partner with two Canadian firms, a holding company and a real estate group, in Parq Vancouver.

The partnership announced two Marriott hotels would anchor the development, a JW Marriott, which will have 288 guest rooms and 41 suites, and the Douglas, with 178 rooms and 10 suites.

The property will also have three restaurants, bars, a spa and 62,000 square feet of meeting, conference and special event space, including what the developers say will be the city’s largest ballroom.

“We are excited to build a landmark that will maintain the integrity of Vancouver’s unique local culture and are thrilled to see this important resort come to life in the coming months,” Menke said.

BC Place is home to the Canadian Football League’s British Columbia Lions and Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. It also hosts concerts and other special events and will be attached to the hotel-casino complex. Also, the 18,630-seat Rogers Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, is near the development.

Paragon managed the Riviera Hotel and Casino for almost two years before it was acquired by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in February and closed on May 4. Menke told state gaming regulators much of the Riviera’s hotel and convention business transferred to the Westgate.

Paragon Gaming no longer operates the River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta. The company transferred ownership last year to its partners, the Enoch Cree Nation.