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Gaming Guru

Adrienne Packer
 

Red Rock Station: 198-Foot Tower in Works

7 January 2004

NEVADA -- Summerlin homeowners and Station Casinos struck a tentative compromise Tuesday, agreeing to a 198-foot tower at the gaming company's proposed resort, Red Rock Station, sources said.

After a three-hour meeting Monday and a flurry of phone calls on the eve of today's Clark County Commission meeting, residents and casino executives agreed to deviate about 100 feet from what each initially sought.

"That's about where I thought things would end up," Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury said Tuesday. "You never know for sure, but this is probably what the commission would have imposed. It's a good decision, a good outcome."

Homeowners who opposed Station's original plan to build a 300-foot hotel tower confirmed the compromise but declined to elaborate because of a pact made Monday that neither side would publicly discuss negotiations.

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lesley Pittman declined to confirm any deal, citing the pact.

"The rationale for that is this thing is changing every minute," Pittman said. "At deadline, it could be one thing and then it could fall apart."

Commissioner Mark James, whose district includes the casino site, has requested a hold on the item. James is sick and will not attend the meeting.

But commissioners have indicated they prefer to move forward with a vote. Woodbury and Commissioner Chip Maxfield plan to call James this morning and explain the proposal. If James has no objections, the board will proceed, Woodbury said.

"It's important to him, obviously, so hopefully we can make him feel comfortable enough so that we can go forward," Woodbury said.

James has been the opponents' most supportive board member, strongly objecting to Stations' initial request for the 300-foot tower.

Resident Lisa Mayo-DeRiso said she is comfortable if the board votes on the project without James, as long as the agreement is not changed in the minutes before the meeting.

"Our hope is we come to the podium tomorrow in agreement on both sides so all the commission has to do is ratify that," Mayo-DeRiso said.

By reducing the height of the tower, Stations would have to lengthen the footprint of the hotel to accommodate 1,000 rooms.

Homeowners who formed the group "Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth" for months have been haggling with Station executives over the height of the hotel tower that will be built at Charleston Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway.

Station originally planned for a hotel that featured the 300-foot structure along with two 200-foot towers for offices and time shares. Last month, executives offered to reduce the height of the office building and time shares to 100 feet and shave 32 feet off the hotel tower.

Residents scoffed, arguing that when they bought their homes they signed disclosure forms stating buildings on the site would be no higher than 100 feet.

Station executives have said the 300-foot-tower is suitable for Summerlin Centre, a new downtown planned by The Howard Hughes Corp. Plans for the Centre include 250-foot office towers, 100-foot condominium buildings, a 1.2 million-square-foot regional shopping mall and park. Red Rock Station would be in the heart of the downtown.

Though opponents still fear the tower will block views of the Spring Mountains and set a bad precedent, Summerlin resident Gil Eisner thinks the project is a vital component in an effort to curb urban sprawl.

"I would much rather see density go vertical than density go horizontal," said Eisner, who has a background in planning and helped create such Los Angeles hubs as Century City. "I'd much rather see more open land."

Eisner said he is among the majority of Summerlin homeowners who have remained silent, leaving it up to Station honchos to fight the battle. He also emphasized he has no stake in Station.

"If Las Vegas depended on me gambling, everything would dry up and blow away," Eisner said. "It's an extremely important project to set the tone for the thousands of acres to be developed in the future."

Marc Curley agrees with the notion that most Summerlin residents did not object to Station's proposed 300-foot tower.

Supporters of the project have not been as visible or boisterous at county meetings as opponents. Curley, a member of the Amarante village homeowners association, said most people figured the plan would pass.

Curley moved to Summerlin in 1991 because a downtown was included in Howard Hughes' master plan. He said he embraced the thought of working near his home.

"I want to live in Summerlin, play in Summerlin and work in Summerlin," he said. "People would not have to plug up all the freeways and side streets to get where they have to go. That's why I moved out here."

Both Eisner and Curley take issue with the tactics of Station's adversaries. For instance, project opponents who live in Commissioner Chip Maxfield's district said they would work to unseat the first-term board member if he voted for the 300-foot tower.

Residents also threatened to file an ethics complaint against Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, claiming she received a discount on land she purchased from Howard Hughes.

Atkinson Gates, who disclosed that she owned the property during a December meeting, said the $346,000 she paid for a half-acre lot was the price listed at the Howard Hughes sales office.

"These are residents who moved into Summerlin two years ago, and they're against everything," Curley said.