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Australian Company Won't Proceed with Vegas Strip Resort


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LAS VEGAS (AP) — An Australian company won't proceed with a project for a 1,100-room hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, company officials announced Thursday.

Crown Resorts Ltd. said it will pull out of the Alon endeavor after reviewing funding alternatives and will consider the possibility of an outright sale of their project. Officials working on the project described it as "shovel-ready" after two years of planning, design and pre-construction work on the site on the northern end of the Strip.

At the time, developers predicted they would break ground in early 2016 and open the resort in late 2018. But questions have swirled for the past year about whether the money would come through. 

"Today's announcements will maximize value for the benefit of all Crown Resorts shareholders, allowing us to redeploy capital to fund high quality growth projects as well as adopting a number of capital management initiatives," Crown Resorts' Chairman Robert Rankin said in a statement that also announced other changes for the company, including selling some of its stake in a Macau-based casino venture and focusing more on properties in Australia.

The Alon project was born from a partnership between billionaire Australian hotelier James Packer and former Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal. While Crown was the primary funding source, Pascal said he and other members of a senior leadership team are "totally devoted" to the project and want it to proceed if they can find a new financier.

He acknowledged that it's been difficult to gather enough capital in the past year or so for the "very ambitious project," but said he thinks Las Vegas is heading into a period of rapid growth and that a relatively small, luxury resort like Alon is "totally right" for the tourism mecca.

Developers submitted plans to county officials in 2015 that showed a resort with two hotel towers, a 126,000-square-foot water feature, a nightclub, a movie theater and a botanical chapel.

At the time, developers predicted they would break ground in early 2016 and open the resort in late 2018. But questions have swirled for the past year about whether the money would come through.

The project is located on 35 acres across from the Wynn and Encore casinos and is near the Trump hotel, Fashion Show Mall and forthcoming Resorts World development.

It's not the first project to fall through on the prime real estate once occupied by the New Frontier, where Elvis Presley first performed in Las Vegas in 1956. The building was imploded in 2007 to make way for a $5 billion project meant to mimic the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

That hotel never materialized.

Crown's withdrawal from Las Vegas comes during a rough period for the company. Three of its Australian employees were arrested in China in October and are facing prosecution as part of an apparent crackdown on efforts to lure wealthy Chinese gamblers to Australian casinos.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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