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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Station Focuses on Valley's West Side

28 June 2004

LAS VEGAS -- Station Casinos Inc. recently sold a parcel of land along Boulder Highway and is negotiating to sell off a second parcel nearby, foregoing land for casino development on the east side of Las Vegas and instead focusing on developing locals casinos on the more rapidly growing west side of the valley.

The company sold 27 acres of land to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in April for $11.2 million. The land is made up of a series of 11 parcels at the intersection of Boulder Highway and Nellis Boulevard, across the highway from Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Sam's Town hotel-casino.

Separately, Station received approval from the Clark County Commission to rezone 68 acres of land at the northeast corner of Boulder Highway and Tropicana Avenue from hotel-casino use to residential use. Plans filed with the county call for multi-family and single-family homes to be built on the site.

Station is negotiating to sell the 68-acre parcel to housing developer D.R. Horton, which applied for the zoning change, Station spokeswoman Lesley Pittman said. The locals casino giant owns about half the land and is leasing the other half with an option to buy.

Station Casinos acquired leases on both parcels several years ago and in March bought about half the parcel, or 34 acres, for $8.9 million. The company bought the land because its option on the land was set to expire, Pittman said.

Station Casinos Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson said the company has set its sights on the west side of the valley for future growth.

"As we look at the property we own on the east side of Las Vegas, we don't see it necessarily as strategically as we did a few years ago," Christenson said. "Our focus is mostly on the west side of Las Vegas."

With the success of Station Casinos' Boulder Station and Fiesta Henderson hotel-casinos, the company "doesn't see a need for (additional) capacity on that side of town," he said.

In addition to owning the Fiesta Henderson on Boulder Highway, Station Casinos in March signed a deal to purchase two small casinos in Henderson, including the Magic Star Casino on Boulder Highway north of the Fiesta.

As a key component of the company's long-term growth strategy, Station Casinos has bought up land across the valley to develop casinos as well as head off competitors. The company has previously sold off land it didn't want to develop and imposed restrictions that prevent casinos from being built on the land.

All the other parcels of vacant land owned by Station Casinos are on the west side of town, an area that company executives have touted for rapid residential and commercial growth. Those parcels are slated for casino development and include 67 acres near Durango Road and Interstate 215, 49 acres at Flamingo Road and I-215 and 45 acres at the site of the company's Wild Wild West hotel-casino on Flamingo Road near Interstate 15.

Station plans to build a major resort at its Wild Wild West site after it opens Red Rock Station, a 400-room hotel-casino under construction at Charleston Avenue and I-215, in early 2006. Company executives also say they want to eventually develop the land at Durango Road and Flamingo Road, though demand will dictate the timing of those projects.

According to plans filed with the county for the 68-acre site at Boulder Highway, the western side of the lot would feature 159 triplex buildings with a total of 477 units. The eastern side of the lot would have 227 lots for single family homes with two bedrooms and three bedrooms. The lot also will have 1,042 parking spaces.

Applicant D.R. Horton withdrew those plans and told the county it expects to present a different residential design for approval. The developer has three years to complete the project, commissioners said.

County planners said the project doesn't conform with original land use plans for the area but noted that the valley is continuing to experience a trend of developers rezoning commercial land as higher density residential development. Planners recommended approval, saying the project already is in an area with a mix of residential and commercial development.

Based on recommendations by planning staff and the planning commission, county commissioners imposed several conditions on the final plans, including incorporating a potential school site, landscape buffers, and traffic studies.

Station Focuses on Valley's West Side is republished from