Developer invites local investors in project

AMSTERDAM – The developers of a proposed casino near Thruway Exit 27 say local business people would be able to invest in the endeavor.

“Local business people will be invited to invest in the applicant for no more than a combined 15 percent interest with no single person owning more than a 5 percent state,” according to an executive summary of the casino application released this week by the state Gaming Facility Location Board.

The investors would invest in the same securities and at the same price as Clairvest and Great Canadian Gaming Corp.

The summary says conversations are under way with several potential investors, according to the summary.

Florida Acquisition Corp. is proposing the casino. It is one of five casino proposals in the Capital Region. The state will award a license for at least one casino in the Capital Region in the fall.

Florida Acquisition Corp. wants to build a $250 million casino on 500 acres in the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam near the Thruway interchange. The project would create 453 temporary construction jobs and 850 permanent casino jobs, according to the developers.

Florida Acquisition Corp. is owned by Clairvest Corp., based in Toronto, and Great Canadian Gaming Corp., based in British Columbia.

Clairvest’s casino investments currently generate more than $1.2 billion in annual gross revenue. Great Canadian Gaming Corp. operates 17 gaming facilities, including 10 casinos, according to the summary.

The casino would include a 100-room hotel, a 140-seat restaurant, a 300-seat buffet, a 150-seat food court, a 200-seat live entertainment lounge, 3,000 square feet of meeting space, a day spa, a business center, a fitness facility for hotel guests, a coffee shop and a farmers market. Nature trails would incorporate public art displays that would focus on the county’s history. The casino would be organizes around a large atrium.

The project would be developed in three phases.

The first phase would be the resort complex, the second phase would include a golf course and 100 additional residential units, and the third phase would include a second golf course and another 100 residential units, the summary states.

The budget for phase one is $200 million. The budget for phases two and three is $20 million to $25 million each.

The developers say they are “actively looking to partner with local business people and aspiring entrepreneurs on opportunities that may be available as part of the resort complex or as spinoff opportunities,” according to the summary. The document states the developers will work with the local chamber of commerce about opportunities for local businesses to provide products and services at the resort.

The developers want to work with the Robert Trent Jones group to design the golf courses and develop an affiliation with the Amsterdam municipal golf course, which also was designed by Robert Trent Jones. A Dottie Pepper golf academy also may be part of the golf courses, the summary states. Pepper is a pro golfer and Saratoga Springs native.

Deferral request

The developers, in the summary, point out they need to find a savings or deferral of $25 million of the $50 million license fee. The state Gaming Facility Location Board already has said deferral is no option, but “rather than drop out as a result, [Florida Acquisition Corp.], at the urging of the local community, continues to work with the county of Montgomery to find a solution,” the summary states.

Before sending in the application to the state, the developers sought a reduction of the licensing fee from $50 million to $25 million. To recoup the lowered licensing fee, developers offered to increase the casino’s tax rate from 45 percent to 48 percent. In June, the state gaming commission refused this request, along with another for more time to complete the application.

The application states developers would like to have a discussion with the licensing board to find a solution.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort could not be reached for comment this morning.

Montgomery County Legislature Chairman Thomas Quackenbush said this morning he is unaware of a possible solution involving the county and developers regarding the license fee.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said during Wednesday’s Say Yes to Exit 27 Casino rally that Amsterdam and Florida are the best locations for the casino.

“We would benefit the most,” Thane said.