Partnership involving Las Vegas company to revive Vancouver hotel-casino project

A $535 million hotel-casino project in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, that was scuttled nearly two-and-a-half years ago by city leaders, has been revived through a partnership between Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming Inc. and two Canadian corporations.

The project’s developers announced the deal Tuesday morning at a news conference in Vancouver.

Paragon, whose chief executive officer is Diana Bennett, daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett, is joined in the development by Dundee Corp., a Canadian investment company, and 360 Vox Corp., a Canadian real estate developer.

The resort project, first proposed in 2010 by Paragon, is adjacent to the BC Place stadium.

The development will have two luxury resort hotels totaling 550 rooms, a 40,000-square-foot conference center, restaurants, retail space and will serve as the new home for the existing Edgewater Casino in Vancouver, which is operated by Paragon.

In March, Vancouver city leaders agreed to a scaled-back proposal with Paragon that reduced the scope of development. The lease agreement included a 70-year term with $3 million in annual payments.

In 2011, Vancouver residents voiced their displeasure with a large casino located in downtown. The City Council rejected the development plans.

“We listened to the community and understood their concerns,” said Paragon President Scott Menke. “We believe that we have brought in the right partners and have designed an urban resort consistent with the desires of the city.”

A key to the project’s revival was a reduction in size of the casino from 1,100 slot machines and 200 table games. Paragon will transfer its 600 slot machines and 75 table games from the nearby Edgewater to the new development. The old casino will be closed. The number of hotel rooms was also reduced from the original concept.

Still, the project, which is expected to open by the end of 2016, will be the largest casino in Western Canada.

Menke said the project will need approval from the city of Vancouver’s Urban Design panel, but will not need any additional approval from the City Council. He said the partnership was in “advanced talks” with Marriott International to manage the two hotels.

“It’s a unique project because were putting an integrated resort opportunity in a city that is a gateway to the Pacific Rim,” Menke said. “We are thrilled to partner and proceed with Dundee and 360 Vox, who bring not only investment, but also their international resort and hospitality experience to this unique and important project.”

BC Place is home to the Canadian Football League’s British Columbia Lions and Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. The 60,000-seat stadium, which also hosts concerts and other special events, will be attached to the hotel-casino complex. Also, the 18,630-seat Rogers Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, is near the development.

“It creates a unique environment in downtown Vancouver,” Menke said.

Developers said the project would employ 2,000 full time workers. Construction and development work would create approximately 4,500 jobs.

Once opened, the facility will generate an estimated $180 million annually for the local economy, supplemented by an estimated $87 million in annual visitor spending generated outside the resort.

In June, Paragon became the management company for the Riviera, overseeing operations of the Strip resort. Paragon currently operates three casinos in Western Canada including the River Cree Resort outside of Edmonton, Alberta.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.