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Allegiant resuming construction of stalled Florida resort project

After shelving its Florida resort project at the onset of the pandemic, Allegiant Air’s parent company is restarting construction of the riverfront property.

Maurice “Maury” Gallagher, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., told analysts during its quarterly earnings call last week that the airline will resume and finish construction of Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor, with Allegiant President John Redmond reporting that it recently reached a deal to borrow $350 million for the venture.

The deep-discount carrier expects to complete the resort by early 2023, according to a securities filing.

Allegiant is scheduled to hold a news conference at the project site Tuesday and hold an investor call Thursday to discuss the plans.

The project, in southwest Florida along the Peace River, is slated to feature around 500 hotel rooms and about 180 extended-stay suites.

Allegiant — known for flying from small, underserved cities to warm-weather vacation spots, usually without competition on its routes — held a ceremonial groundbreaking for Sunseeker in March 2019, about 2½ years after Redmond, a former casino executive, was named company president.

It suspended construction of the resort in March 2020 amid the early chaos of the coronavirus outbreak, part of its sweeping efforts to save cash as the tourism industry, including in Las Vegas, largely ground to a halt.

Gallagher told analysts last week that Sunseeker is in the middle of “perhaps the best leisure vacation area in the country” and is “easy driving distance” from three of Allegiant’s top-performing markets: St. Pete-Clearwater, Punta Gorda and Sarasota.

According to Gallagher, Allegiant has historically carried more than 4 million people per year in and out of those Florida destinations.

Allegiant is also restarting construction after its financial results turned around.

The airline, which reported a loss of $184.1 million for all of 2020, had clocked 17 consecutive profitable years before the pandemic upended daily life, kept people home and away from crowds for fear of getting infected, and sparked huge job losses around the country.

Tourism has rebounded this year, and Allegiant said last week that it booked $101.9 million in profit during the first half of 2021.

As Redmond told analysts, the carrier’s balance sheet is “significantly stronger” now than it was last spring.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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