Andrew Lai will develop and operate the resort, which willinclude a 28,000-sf casino, three restaurants, three lounges, afull-service spa and outdoor swimming pool, as well as a fitnesscenter, business center, retail and meeting space. Lai tellsGlobeSt.com that the total project cost will be approximately $170million. Lai says he has financing from "overseas," but declined tobe more specific.

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Covering approximately two acres on the northeast corner ofSpring Mountain Road and Polaris Avenue, Lai's Cogent InvestmentLLC acquired the four-parcel development site in mid-2006 by forapproximately $6 million before the county put a gaming overlay onthe area. A recent appraisal estimated the property's value at $28million, Lai says.

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Lai owns the hotel property by himself but he owns another 30acres in the immediate area with Susan Krygiell, a longtime localbroker and investor who helped assemble the acreage and obtain thegaming overlay for the area. Krygiell tells GlobeSt.com they haveentitlements in place for 3,700 condo-hotel units and severalhundred thousand square feet of gaming and retail.

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"We decided that a project of this size needs gaming, so we wentforward and took the risk to hire all the right consultants to tryto get the gaming overlay," Krygiell says. "As luck would have it,the county was in the process of changing the master plan for thearea."

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As a result, Lai says land they acquired for $600,000 per acreis now worth closer to $11 million an acre. Krygiell says theproperties almost all have existing buildings on them that areproducing income while they wait for the market to rebound.

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Another large property owner in the area is the Ribeiro Cos.,which a couple of years back had 30 acres in the immediate arearezoned from industrial to accommodate a mixed-use development thatwould include 3,400 residential units, 2,200 hotel rooms and retailin 10 buildings. A company official could not be reached Friday forcomment.

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