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Adelson-Wynn Battle in Commission Again

6 January 2005

Las Vegas Sun

By Launce Rake

LAS VEGAS -- A legal and political battle between Strip titans Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Venetian, and Steve Wynn, owner of the as-yet-to-open Wynn Las Vegas, entered the Clark County Commission chambers and stayed there throughout most of last year.

And it shows every indication of continuing this year.

Teams from the two gaming moguls resumed their on-again, off-again warfare before the commission on Wednesday, again focusing on the thorny issue of parking.

The spark for the latest round of legal combat was a request to build a long-planned Walgreens drugstore and small shopping center on land on three sides by the Venetian. The site was once home to the Rosewood Grill.

Frank Shreck, Wynn's attorney, called the trustworthiness of Adelson's men into question. He noted that Adelson has promised to resolve by August an ongoing lack of parking with a new underground, six-story garage -- a goal that Shreck suggested was not possible.

"Maybe August 2006," he said.

The shopping center would exacerbate the parking problems, he said. Shreck also suggested that Adelson's group asked for far more space than necessary for "electrical and mechanical" purposes in order to change that space in the shopping center to money-making purposes later.

"That garage is not going to be built anywhere near when they told you it was going to be built," Shreck said.

Paul Larsen, Adelson's attorney, noted that the Venetian has been in compliance since July with requirements imposed by the county that the resort have 12,000 parking spaces. The resort has juggled on- and off-site parking to meet the requirement.

Adelson needs to meet the requirement for him to go forward with a planned expansion that would add 3,000 rooms in 2006.

Larsen and land-use consultant Greg Borgel said approval of the zoning request for the shopping center would move around space inside the resort, but would not actually increase public areas that would necessitate more parking.

"There is no net increase in retail area," Borgel insisted.

Since the July meeting of the same zoning board, the two sides have sparred on a monthly basis as the Venetian, as required, has presented evidence that it is living up to its promise to the county commission.

But the ongoing conflict has its victims: the commissioners. Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates said she is tired of the fight. She scolded Adelson's team for bringing zoning requests to the county in piecemeal fashion.

"It is the most horrible process for a major hotel casino that I have seen in my lifetime on this commission," Atkinson Gates said.

Commissioner Tom Collins, who was sworn in Monday, said he is tired of the bickering.

"There has been a lot of wasted time because of people not being able to get along," Collins said. "There's going to be some get-along from now on... I'd just as soon these (issues) go away."

But not just yet.

The County Commission, by a 5-0 vote, told the Venetian representatives to come back in two weeks for further consideration of the zoning request. They said more time is needed to look at how much room the developers have devoted to electrical and mechanical purposes and to see if that much space is really needed.

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