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Benjamin Spillman

Lady Luck gets closer to getting some relief

17 July 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Developers of the shuttered Lady Luck and Las Vegas officials have outlined an ambitious schedule to revive the troubled downtown hotel and casino.

On Wednesday, the City Council is scheduled to consider an exclusive negotiating agreement between the city and CIM LL Las Vegas LLC, an offshoot of the Hollywood-based development company that recently invested $25 million in the languishing Lady Luck. CIM is working with the company that bought the property in 2005, led by Andrew Donner of Las Vegas.

The agreement calls on CIM to deliver a financing plan and outline schedules for construction on the project and identify a timeline to select an operator for the hotel and casino by Aug. 31.

By Nov. 17, city officials want a master plan for the site at the intersection of Third Street and Stewart Avenue that incorporates the hotel, the historic mob museum and Frank Wright Plaza park.

The proposed agreement also calls for the developer to study the cost and effect of removing the pedestrian bridge over Third Street that connects the Lady Luck's two towers. City officials say it obstructs views of the mob museum under construction in the historic post office building. Lady Luck owners have been reluctant to remove it.

If the developers stick to the schedule it would be a departure from the recent history of missed deadlines and unfulfilled promises related to the project Mayor Oscar Goodman once referred to as "a carcass outside my window."

Now that CIM has bought into the Lady Luck, Goodman says he thinks it will get back on track because the Hollywood firm has the money and experience to pull off major real estate redevelopment.

"I don't think we are going to have to worry about them dragging their feet," said Goodman. "They showed me the money when I asked to see it."

Donner's company bought the Lady Luck in April 2005 with plans to redevelop it along with several storefronts on Third Street between Stewart and Ogden avenues. Donner's company, which has gone by a number of names, closed the property in February 2006 and displaced about 700 employees.

Donner had promised to reopen within a year and secured an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city to purchase Frank Wright Plaza so it could be part of the revived Lady Luck.

News last month that CIM Group will invest in the Lady Luck stoked hope in City Hall that the project is back on track.

"Realistically speaking, downtown has always struggled to get the momentum that people have looked for," said Jeremy Aguero, a principal with the research firm Applied Analysis. "Certainly new investment would draw some additional people down there."

Neither Donner nor John Given of CIM returned calls to discuss the project.