"M" is for megaresort - Saturday 22nd of October 2005

A proposed $1.8 billion, 79-acre mixed-use resort could bring Henderson its tallest and biggest buildings to date. Anthony Marnell III has received initial approval for the "M Resort" at the southeast corner of St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Although the development has yet to receive final city consent, phase one calls for a 400 to 500-foot-tall hotel tower with 1,500 rooms, says Robert Riffel, Marnells project architect.

The project, if approved, would be roughly five times taller than Green Valley Ranch Station, the citys most recent hotel-casino.

This rural home at the northeast corner of Dale Avenue and Haven Street in Henderson will be demolished for one of four condominium towers that are slated to be built in the second phase of the M Resort.

In 1996, Henderson officials issued a plan-use permit for the future Green Valley Ranch Station site at I-215 and Green Valley Parkway. It stipulated that the development be no taller than 80 feet in order to accommodate neighbors. That parcel, however, has a natural slope enabling it to maintain a low profile.

The M Resort, by contrast, would be significantly taller and located on flat open land. The closest homes are less than 800 yards away.

Despite this, the Henderson Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval for four applications connected with the resort, including a use permit and a zone change from rural use.

"There was no resistance from neighbors," said Debra March, a planning commission member. "Everyone embraced the project."

The M Resort is expected to go before the Henderson City Council on Nov. 1.

Initial plans call for a 100,000-square-foot casino, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, and 73,500 square feet of restaurants. Other amenities include 15,000 square feet of retail, a 35,000-square-foot spa, a 10-screen movie theater, and a 24,000-square-foot night club.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to start in September with operations beginning by fall 2008. The M Resort would create roughly 4,200 full-time jobs.

Anthony Marnell III recently bought the 33-acre Saddle West Hotel Casino & RV Park in Pahrump for an undisclosed price. The sale is still pending state Gaming Board approval. Marnell is also the president of Tririga Inc., a construction software company, which he will continue to run.

The project faces stiff competition in a locals market dominated by Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos. The new South Coast Casino, for example, will open down the street two years before the M Resort comes online.

Marnell IIIs prior gaming experience stems from a marketing position at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, and a hospitality administration degree from UNLV.

"There is an advantage to be first, but there is bound to be some comparison shopping," said Michael Green, a history professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada. "The southwest seems like the logical place to go. Its a growing area that hasnt really been tapped."

A planned second phase of M Resort would bring another 1,000-room hotel tower as well as 1,944 condominiums. Upon build-out, the M Resort would be 7.3 million square feet or three times larger than the Empire State building.

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