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Arnold M. Knightly

Scaled-back Silverton expansion set to open

24 November 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Most features of a scaled-back $160 million expansion of the Silverton will be open by Thanksgiving, property President Craig Cavileer said this week.

The 35,000-square-foot expansion includes casino space for 800 new slot machines, a high-limit room with 60 more slot machines and three table games, and a six-table poker room.

All of the casino's 2,200 slot machines are fitted with new technology that allows interaction with players. The technology, when approved by gaming regulators, will offer players bonus points, meal tickets or other specials.

"It just gives you the ability to direct media content straight to the player," said Cavileer, adding that only one other area company has similar technology.

The expansion also includes a $750,000 Starbucks that the property will design, staff and own. Two additional restaurants, Johnny Rockets and Luciano's, are part of the expansion.

The expansion includes the property's first parking garage, a five-level, 1,500-space facility that cost $29 million. Valet attendants will work in a climate-controlled area with couches and flat-screen televisions.

While most features will be open by Thanksgiving, the $2.5 million Light Bar with a 240-light chandelier is not expected to open until Christmas, Cavileer said.

The expansion of the property at Blue Diamond Road and Interstate 15 is a trimmer version of a bolder $500 million project that would have included a 25-story, 360-room hotel tower, an expanded pool and entertainment venue, and convention center. It will add 25 jobs, most at the Starbucks.

Cavileer said the property is in a "wait-and-see" mode, with the tower fully permitted and the pool expansion going through Clark County permitting.

"The color of next year is, quite frankly, what's the Las Vegas economy going to do?" Cavileer said.

Although the hotel tower will wait, Cavileer said there is "a strong possibility" the $15 million pool and entertainment center, which is already funded, could break ground in 2009.

"That time will give us visibility on what the volume is and where the market is," Cavileer said. "It is the right thing to do; the question is, is it the right time to do it?"

The current expansion and pool plans are funded through a $180 million line of credit with the hotel-casino as collateral.

The Silverton opened in 1994 as Boomtown. Los Angeles-based developer Ed Roski Jr. took over the property in 1997 and changed its name to Silverton.

Occupancy for the property's 300 rooms is still in the mid-90 percent range, Cavileer said, but price wars on the Strip have forced down daily rates.

There are now 850 full-time employees.