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Developer bids again for Wet ‘n Wild site

The Texas-based developer who wants to build a 1,064-foot hotel tower on the old Wet ‘n Wild site is making a second attempt to secure the land.

Christopher Milam has entered a new agreement to purchase the 27-acre site south of the Sahara for $618 million, or $22.9 million per acre, from a land subsidiary of Archon Corp., a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

An initial agreement for an investment group led by Milam to buy the site for $475 million, or $17.7 million per acre, expired in June.

Milam, along with original partners Melbourne, Australia-based gaming company Crown Ltd. and New York-based private equity firm York Management, had planned to build a $5 billion mixed-use development called Crown Las Vegas before the initial deal expired.

The filing, made by Archon Corp., did not reveal Milam’s current plans or who any co-investors might be.

Milam did not return a call or e-mail request for comment on the new agreement. The Lowden family, which controls Archon Corp., did not return a call.

The new agreement calls for Milam to pay a $1,000 deposit by March 31 and purchase 60,000 shares of stock for $60 million from the land subsidiary by the same date to execute the contract.

The stock will be repurchased by Archon if the land deal closes by March 31, 2010, or will be retained by Milam if the deal should not be completed, according to the filing.

The new agreement is structured to infuse the land owner with cash while protecting Milam from losing equity interest in the property should the deal not close.

Milam and his partners paid $67.1 million in nonrefundable deposits and fees to Archon between June 2006 and June 2008 when the initial agreement was cancelled.

Archon, which owns the Pioneer in Laughlin, has been renting the vacant 27-acre site for $400,000 per month. The land has been used as a staging area for the construction of the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau resort.

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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