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Arnold M. Knightly

Another project on Strip delayed

27 August 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The woes of Wall Street have delayed another resort project on the Strip's south end.

Olympia Gaming is delaying construction of its $1 billion Southern Highlands Resort due to "uncertainty in the financial markets," said D.C. Graham, Olympia's chief marketing officer.

"This is a market condition factor," Graham said. "It has nothing to do with the project. The project is designed and everything is strong there."

Graham said the company has owned the land for a decade and can handle a delay without penalty.

"The financial markets are creating challenges for developers locally, regionally and nationally," said Brian Gordon, a financial analyst for financial consulting firm Applied Analysis. "Financing large-scale projects in this environment is a difficult task."

The 1,400-room, mixed-use project slated for 70 acres on the northwest corner St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard South was scheduled to break ground this summer.

"We don't want to be held at the mercy of these financial markets," Graham said. "The deals on money are just not the best right now."

Graham said Olympia will revisit financing options for Southern Highlands Resort quarterly with hopes of breaking ground in 2008.

The delay is the third project in the south end of the valley to be postponed in the past two months because of the volatile credit markets.

The Silverton withdrew a $215 million bond sale in July that was to help pay for a large expansion and to repay existing debt, a note from Moody's Investors Service shows. The hotel is proceeding with the planned $500 million expansion in phases with the casino, a new pool and parking garage under construction.

Construction on a 360-room hotel tower has been delayed.

The Tropicana this month also said it was delaying the start of a $2.5 billion redevelopment until 2008 at the earliest, also citing market conditions.

The credit market's effects go beyond construction projects.

An investment group trying to buy Hooters Hotel said earlier this week that it was re-evaluating financing options for the deal although it still planned to close the sale by the end of the year.

Olympia Gaming is a division of the Olympia Group, developer of the 2,700-acre master-plan community Southern Highlands.

The company broke ground in December on the 2,675-acre master-planned Park Highlands development, which includes a 56-acre nongaming resort-commercial parcel. Graham said the two divisions are operated separately with financing and deals secured independently.