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Gaming Guru

Arnold M. Knightly
 

Maxim permitted to move on

22 February 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Clark County commissioners on Wednesday approved use permits for a proposed Maxim magazine-themed condo-resort project despite concerns by representatives and residents from the neighboring high-rise Sky Las Vegas.

Los Angeles-based Concord Wilshire Development, which was seeking approval for a high-density project that will carry the men's lifestyle magazine name, was granted the use permits but will be allowed to resubmit a revised design review later.

The design review will include more details about the proposed project, such as tower height, entrances and parking availability.

The mixed-used project planned for the 7.7-acre site near Circus Circus would include a three-tower resort hotel with 300 rooms and 1,860 condominiums. It will also have a large casino, shops and restaurants.

David O'Malley, Concord Wilshire vice president of design and engineer, said he had expected that the design review might be held but was satisfied with obtaining the use permits.

"You can't really jump into the design process until you know what you're permitted to build," O'Malley said. "My view is that the use permit largely generalizes what you can build. It's not much more than a general idea to match to the space you're permitted to build."

He added that he still plans to break ground in 2008, with completion of the project in 2010.

The company recently hired local architectural firm Bergman, Walls & Associates as executive architects. O'Malley said the company is gathering a design team.

The project would be the first partnership between Concord Wilshire and Dennis Publishing, publisher of Maxim.

Concord Wilshire, which is new to the casino industry, will need to obtain a gaming license or find a gaming partner because of the project's planned casino.

The project is planned for a site on the northwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Circus Circus Drive. It is wedged in on three sides by a Travelodge, a Circus Circus parking garage and Sky Las Vegas. Concord Wilshire assembled the four parcels in late 2005 for $50.25 million.

"Our concern is too make sure the project is compatible," Sky Las Vegas Chief Executive Officer Aaron Yashouafar said after the hearing. "It's a nice project. We just don't know the whole problem because we don't know enough about the project. And we still don't know enough."

Sky Las Vegas representatives told the commissioners they are not opposed to developing the site along the Strip. Yashouafar emphasized that he likes the idea of a casino and retail site opening next to his condo. But he worries that the project might be incompatible with his own high-rise and that Sky Las Vegas residents, especially those living outside Las Vegas, might not be able to have any say in the planning.

The first Sky Las Vegas residents are scheduled to move into the 409-unit high-rise, Yashouafar noted.

"We got a little bit blindsided when we heard about this project coming next door," said Stanley Parry, an attorney representing Sky Las Vegas. "Not that we're opposed to the project necessarily because it will probably enhance our property. It's more about having these tower structures going up against each other. To the degree we can make it compatible by angling, it can help every body."

Parry noted that the Maxim project was first heard by the Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 2, but no one from Sky Las Vegas or his office attended because they didn't know of the meeting.

The item was largely approved and forwarded to the County Commission.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani asked for the item, originally scheduled to be heard on Feb. 7, to be held until Wednesday so she could better understand the issue and gather more opinions.

Giunchigliani denied a request by Parry on Wednesday to hold the item 60 to 90 more days, instead negotiating a compromise on the use permits and design reviews.

She also addressed concerns by Sky Las Vegas representatives about past developers who have obtained permits for project but ended up selling the entitled land at a higher price by saying she did not believe Concord Wilshire was going to "flip the property."

"The right development in that area is going to improve the value of the real estate with entertainment and restaurants and make that neighborhood a better place to live," Yashouafar said. "The project will be an improvement for the area. We don't expect that land to stay vacant."

O'Malley said he does not know when he will submit revised designs for review.