Creative Casino's Mojito Pointe project is taking on new ownership that plans to super-size the casino-resort development. Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casino, Inc. are set to acquire Creative Casinos, LLC for $32,500,000 and pick up where they left off with the proposed Mojito Pointe project.
"Well it's a great opportunity for growth. This definitely is an under-served market," said Troy Stremming, Ameristar Sr. VP of Government and Public Affairs.
Ameristar is looking to be the next premier gaming operator in Southwest Louisiana. The acquisition hinged on the approval of the Lake Charles Port Authority and the Louisiana Gaming Board. At a special Port Board meeting Wednesday night Ameristar had no problem getting the unanimous approval. With that support they are set to go before the Gaming Control Board on Thursday.
The mastermind behind Mojito Pointe, Creative Casinos CEO Dan Lee, said it was hard to walk away but that his decision to sell was the right one.
"I really like the Lake Charles market and think it deserves a first-class facility. I couldn't afford to build what was needed, "said Lee. "Basically we were going to incur $125,000,000 in interest fees during construction. Ameristar has a great credit facility that's much cheaper with only about $25,000,000 of interest during construction and that allows them to build it for the same price and build a bigger and better project."
The project includes several additions from the original proposal: 400 rooms will now go to 700, including 70 suites. They are also proposing a larger parking garage with at least 1,000 spaces and a parking lot to accommodate 2,000. They'll also have their own 18-hole golf course separate from L'auberge.
"Having two golf courses will be a nice option for patrons. It will really make us a destination for this region," said Stremming.
They say with the upgrades there will be a minimum investment of $500,000,000. As for the original Mojito Pointe theme, Stremming said the name and plan are subject to change.
"We want to make certain that is what the local community would like to see. We do not have a cookie cutter concept that we go into each market. We want to better understand the local culture and give them something here in the community that fits well and something that they will be very proud of," explained Stremming.
With the acquisition Ameristar will take on all commitments made by Creative Casinos and keep the same two-year construction timeline. According to Stremming they hope to break ground July 20th.
"We're hopeful that they will allow us about 120 days to really get our arms around project make some final touches to the design and then we can have a shovel in the ground and moving dirt within the next 120 days. And we know that Lake Charles has waited a long time to bring this facility here and we are really excited to have that opportunity," said Stremming. "During the building process the project will provide about 1,500 construction jobs and once finished it will take about another 1,500 to operate the casino and resort."
More From a previous update:
According to the petition filed with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. These are the highlights in Creative Casinos' request to sell to Ameristar.
Creative Casinos requests the approve project be changed to provide for:
At least 700 rooms
- The original plans called for at least 400 rooms
A parking garage with at least 1,000 spaces and a parking lot with at least 2,000 spaces
Eliminate plans for a 2,500 person capacity entertainment facility
Construction now expected to start July 20, 2012
- The original plans called for construction to begin March 16, 2012
- Construction to be complete within 2 years
Minimum investment to be at least $500 million
- The original plans called for at least $400 million
UPDATE Regarding Press Release:
Here is an update to our story that includes a comment about the relationship between Creative Casinos and MGM. To view [CLICK HERE].
Port Director Bill Rase tells KPLC there will be a special meeting to consider taking appropriate action regarding an amended Lease Option with Creative Casinos.
He says while all the details remain to be worked out, his initial response to this news is that this is a "positive move to get the casino built here in Lake Charles."
KPLC will be covering tonight's meeting, so look for more on this developing story throughout the day and evening.
The following is a release from Marketwatch.com:
Ameristar Casinos, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the equity interests of Creative Casinos of Louisiana, L.L.C. ("Creative") from Creative Casinos, LLC. Creative is the developer of a proposed luxury casino resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which it planned to brand as Mojito Pointe. This is the last remaining riverboat gaming license available in Louisiana under current law. The acquisition is subject to the approval by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board on March 15, 2012 of an extension of the deadline for Creative to commence construction of the property to July 20, 2012 and of certain design and scope changes that Ameristar believes will enhance the competitiveness of the property.
The purchase price payable upon closing of the acquisition is $32.5 million (inclusive of a $1 million deposit payable following approval of the construction extension). Closing of the purchase is subject to a number of customary conditions, including regulatory approval and certain third-party consents.
The resort will be developed on a 242-acre site under a lease from the Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District adjacent to the existing L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort. Concept drawings for the project as designed by Creative are substantially complete, excluding the interior fit-out, and Creative has entered into a guaranteed maximum price construction contract for the project.
As proposed by Ameristar, the resort will include a casino with approximately 1,600 slot machines and 60 table games, a hotel with at least 700 guest rooms (including 70 suites), a variety of food and beverage outlets, an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool and spa and other resort amenities, and at least 3,000 parking spaces, 1,000 or more of which will be in a garage. Ameristar's plans represent a significant expansion of Creative's design, which contemplated a 400-room hotel (including 30 suites) and a garage with 400 parking spaces. The existing license conditions require Creative to invest at least $400 million in the casino project, including the development of a showroom facility that Ameristar is proposing to eliminate. In seeking the approval of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, Ameristar is proposing an increase in the minimum investment commitment to $500 million. Ameristar expects to open the resort in mid-2014.