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Arnold M. Knightly

Silverton eyes golden future

13 April 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- With the roadwork outside its door completed, the Silverton is scheduled to begin a $500 million expansion this June that will include doubling its hotel occupancy.

The expansion's focus will be the addition of a 25-story, 360-room hotel tower that will include 63 suites ranging in size from 1,000-square feet to 3,000-square feet.

"Our goal is to go from a solid performer in the off-Strip market to a destination resort product that will put us up there with the Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock (Resort) peer group," Silverton President Craig Cavileer said.

The property's business slid slightly last year while the Nevada Department of Transportation worked on the Blue Diamond Road exit on Interstate 15.

"We suffered a little bit last year through the summer and into the fall," Cavileer said. "Once our overpass and interchange was opened and complete, things have just been terrific."

Silverton officials did not sit around feeling sorry for themselves while waiting for construction to finish. Ownership spent $25 million in capital improvements in 2006 including the opening of the Seasons Buffet in April and the Mi Casa Grill Cantina in November.

"The new restaurants put us in a position that when all our traffic woes cleared up we would have some new products to market to our existing customer base and our new customer base," Cavileer said. "The response has been great. Congestion for the most part has been eliminated. Its really been a good first quarter."

Officials also spent the past 15 months planning and designing the expansion, which is scheduled to be finished in late 2009. Besides adding rooms, the tower is also designed to include a 25,000-square-foot restaurant, lounge and gaming area, and a $15 million spa. Local architecture firm Klai Juba is the project architect; Paul Steelman Design Group is coordinating the interiors.

The property now operates with 300 rooms that were renovated in 2004. Cavileer said the rooms will receive another renovation in the next 12 months. He added that he believes the new tower rooms will be able to "compete anywhere in the world" and "as nice as anything you get on the Strip."

The construction project is also scheduled to add an 1,800-space parking garage, a 30,000-square-foot casino expansion, convention space, three new restaurants, a new lounge, pool, entertainment venue and concert amphitheater.

The expansion is expected to take 19 months. Work on the casino, parking garage, and site work for the hotel tower and pool will start first. Cavileer said the current plan is to open different areas of the expansion during construction culminating with the hotel tower.

This is the latest construction project in a transformation of the Silverton that began nearly 10 years ago. The Silverton is owned by Los Angeles-based real estate developer Ed Roski Jr.

Roski originally bought the land under the Silverton in 1989 with plans to build an industrial warehouse along I-15 before building Boomtown.

When Boomtown opened in 1994 with 300 rooms and a 36,000-square-foot casino, Roski's company, Majestic Realty Co., operated as landlord.

The property suffered financially and Roski took operational control in late 1997, changing the name to Silverton.

Cavileer, who took over as property president when Roski took ownership, said the latest expansion is part of a 10-year evolution of taking the hotel-casino from the old mining theme to a luxury lodge theme.

A keystone of the evolution was a $150 million expansion and renovation that included the November 2004 opening of the 165,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

"When we brought Bass Pro we really became more of a competitor in terms of tourists," Cavileer said. "This is just the next step in that direction where we really maximizing this location for the Southern California customer and the Bass Pro customer to have more of a destination resort product."

More changes may come. Cavileer said that even when this expansion is over the property will have 75 acres that could be used for more casino and hotel space. He said there have been discussions about developing a time share.

As chairman and chief executive officer of the Majestic Realty Co., Roski oversees ownership, management or leases for 73 million-square-feet of property across the United States.

The billionaire businessman is also co-owner of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League and the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association. He is also part of a group of entrepreneurs working to bring a National Football League team back to Los Angeles.

Cavileer said that Roski still travels to the Silverton approximately every 10 days to see how operations are going.