City Center East announced

Great news for Atlantic City: it seems that City Center East–a Strip-style condo/casino/retail development–is one step closer to happening. From the AC Press:

No longer content with building a mere casino, gaming giant MGM Mirage Inc. plans to develop a mini-city of gambling, hotel towers and luxury condominiums that would dramatically redefine the Atlantic City skyline.

The estimated $4.5 billion to $5.5 billion project would mimic the companys huge $7.4 billion CityCenter project under construction on the Las Vegas Strip, although on a smaller scale, according to people familiar with the plans.

MGM envisions a casino complex featuring three hotel towers of 1,000 rooms each and high-end retail on par with the acclaimed Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In addition to its mammoth size, what would distinguish the MGM project from other Atlantic City casinos are plans for posh condos that would start at $1 million and top out between $5 million and $6 million, officials said.

MGMs board of directors may give the development the green light when it holds its next meeting, reportedly Tuesday. In February, the board approved $20 million to design a project that would rise on 70 acres next to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in the Marina District.

MGM is a 50-50 owner of Borgata with Boyd Gaming Corp., but the company has been tantalizing Atlantic City for the past decade with plans for a separate megacasino that would rival anything on its home turf of Las Vegas.

Ritzy Las Vegas casinos owned by MGM include Bellagio, The Mirage, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay. While those casinos are stunning in their own right, MGMs masterpiece is the CityCenter project – billed as a gambling megalopolis or “a city within a city.” It will include a casino hotel of 4,000 rooms, two nongaming boutique hotels, 470,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space and nearly 2,700 upscale condo units. Completion is targeted for late 2009.

MGM would like to use the Las Vegas development as a model for a “CityCenter East” project in Atlantic City. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in fall 2008 and take about three and a half years to complete, according to people briefed on the plans.

The three proposed hotel towers would each serve a distinct market, from mid-tier customers all the way up to the creme de la creme of high rollers. The condos have been discussed as a possible second phase. A 20,000-seat entertainment arena also was considered but has since been struck from the development.

If built, the MGM project would roughly coincide with the arrival of two other proposed casinos. Revel Entertainment Group has started preliminary construction on an estimated $2 billion gaming resort scheduled to open in 2011 next to Showboat Casino Hotel. Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. is redeveloping the site of the old Sands Casino Hotel for a $1.5 billion to $2 billion casino that may open in 2011 or 2012.

“I think it’s very exciting,” New Jersey Casino Control Commission Chair Linda M. Kassekert said of MGM’s plans. “As we have discussed, Atlantic City is really ready to take the next step in becoming a destination, and this is taking us in the right direction.”

Despite growing optimism over MGM’s project, the company’s track record in Atlantic City includes unfulfilled promises for two other casinos within the past decade. It once planned to build a lavish gaming resort on barren land in the South Inlet, only to kill that project to focus on the Marina District. Plans for the Marina then failed. Now MGM is resurrecting the Marina District site for its latest development.

MGM is flush with cash for new projects, thanks in part to a $2.7 billion investment in the CityCenter project by financing partner Dubai World, an entity of the United Arab Emirates government. Dubai World also has agreed to buy as much as $2.4 billion of MGM’s common stock.
MGM Mirage plans multibillion-dollar casino resort for Atlantic City

Here’s a map (the project will be on most of that white sandy area next to the Borgata:

View Larger Map
It’s my first time linking directly like that, so sorry if it doesn’t work. You can get a standard link here.
There’s even better news, because once this project is finished, MGM Mirage has a smaller but still substantial parcel practically across the street here to build either an extension of CCE or a standalone property. We’ve actually got Martin Stern, Jr’s plans for an MGM Grand on that circa 1980 at UNLV Special Collections, but I think they’d build something bigger today.

And it would be a little ironic if that parcel one day becomes the MGM Marina, since the present MGM Grand in Las Vegas started life as the Marina.

In other news, I have a feeling that the CCC will be signing off on Pansy Ho’s partnership with MGM Mirage in Macau…I can’t explain it…just a feeling.

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