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SPARKS, NV-Olympia Gaming plans to break ground early next year for an $800-million marina, casino, resort and spa development that will anchor the 100-acre, 1.2 million-sf Legends at Sparks Marina retail and entertainment center. The company, which also is developing the $1-billion Southern Highlands Casino Resort Spa in Las Vegas, this week acquired 14 acres for its Legends project from the master developer, RED Development.

Olympia Gaming plans to break ground for its Sparks development in the first quarter of 2008 and open the doors in late 2009 or early 2010. The project will include 500 hotel rooms and suites, a casino, a lakefront amphitheater, a private beach and dancing water fall show, several fine dining and casual restaurants, as well as a spa, fitness center, and salon facility, and 50,000 sf of convention and corporate meeting space. A future phase would double the number of hotel rooms and expand the casino.

The rest of the Legends at Sparks Marina got underway in April 2007. It will include 1.2 million sf of retail, restaurants and entertainment offerings. A sports arena may also eventually be part of the development. Retailers and restaurateurs secured to date for the development include Scheels, T-Rex: A Prehistoric Adventure, Saddle Ranch Chop House, Corona Cantina, Pin-Up Bowl, Off-Broadway Shoes and Brooks Brothers.

Scheels, a sporting goods retailer, last week inked a long-term ground lease within the development and is now under construction for a 240,000-sf store. The lease agreement includes an option to acquire the property. The Scheels store is slated to open in October 2008 along with several other restaurant, retail and entertainment options. RED principal Dan Lowe told GlobeSt.com last year that he expects sales at the retail center to top $375 per sf, comparable to the top mall in the region.

RED, co-headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ and Kansas City, MO, develops, leases, manages and owns shopping centers throughout the nation. Its portfolio includes 18 million sf in 30 centers that are either open, in development, or under construction. Legends at Sparks Marina is the second “Legends” branded product by RED. The original is in the Village West area of Kansas City, where in lieu of a casino-resort RED positioned the center next to an 80-acre Nebraska Furniture Mart, the Kansas Speedway, Cabella’s and a minor league baseball park, placing it in the path of several million annual tourists.

Olympia Gaming is the gaming development division of the Olympia Group, whose subsidiaries and related entities include the 2,700-acre Southern Highlands master-planned community in the Las Vegas Valley. Led by prominent real estate developer Garry Goett, the company has approvals in hand for Southern Highlands Casino Resort Spa, a related $1 billion, 70-acre mixed-use resort project.

Olympia also is in the planning stages for a 2,700-acre master planned community in North Las Vegas called Park Highlands; a 5,300-acre master planned community in Mesquite/Lincoln County, NV; and a 250-acre mixed-use development located on the South Strip in Las Vegas. Olympia first announced plans to develop a casino-resort at the Legends development in July 2006. At that time, the cost of the project was estimated at $500 million.

The project is being financed in part with Sales Tax Revenue Bonds, better known as STAR Bonds, which is a state financing program for projects that promote the general and economic welfare of a city. The program allows city governments to issue bonds that are repaid over a 20-year period with revenues received by the city or county from any transient guest, as well as local sales and use taxes which are collected from taxpayers from within the district.

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