plan places big bet
by The Denver Post
HAWK, Colorado - A pair of well-heeled Miami businessmen
are bankrolling a $261 million hotel and casino project in Black
Hawk that is laden with great potential as well as controversy.
snatching up the last major parcel of prime, undeveloped land
in Black Hawk, the state's premier gambling town.
24-acre parcel sits at the town's main entrance, and would be
the first gaming property metro-area travelers see when they
the developers still need to finalize the property sale, secure
an excavation permit to blow up a mountain, and remove an estimated
500,000 cubic yards of rock before the casino can be built.
It could be finished as early as 2007.
project, called Colorado Mint Hotel & Casino, was plagued
by a scam that allegedly swindled millions from investors and
resulted in fraud charges against a handful of people in 2002.
primary financial backers are Miami hotel and casino veterans
Sherwood Weiser and Donald Lefton.
Boulter, the local executive who eyed the plum parcel for several
years and put the deal together, reeled in Weiser and Lefton
about a year ago.
and Lefton made fortunes after selling Carnival Resorts &
Casinos, a hotel and gaming company they co-founded, in 2001
for $182 million to Penn National Gaming.
now run Continental Hospitality Holdings LLC, which develops
and manages hotels and casinos.
said a deal for the 24-acre parcel, owned by Stanford University,
is expected to close in 30 to 60 days. He declined further comment
about the project.
group is paying $21 million for the parcel, which was donated
to Stanford by previous owners who were unable to develop the
land, according to documents obtained by the Post.
site is definitely one of the larger, more desirable sites left,"
said Steve Higgins, owner of Heritage West, a real estate brokerage
and consulting firm that focuses on the Black Hawk and Central
development would feature a 250-room hotel, 1,350 slot machines,
at least 26 table games, a 1,500-space parking structure, a
full-service spa and four restaurants.
is expected to replicate the feel of a grand Western lodge with
shake-style shingles, native stonework, metal roofing and wrought-iron
opened today, the casino would be the largest in the state based
on the number of slot machines. The Isle of Capri is currently
the largest with 1,191 machines.
Colorado Mint casino project hit a roadblock a few years ago.
searching for investors in 2002, he said, he was duped out of
$250,000 by alleged scam artist Graham Gill.
claimed he could guarantee a loan for the project with a mutual
fund worth hundreds of millions, Boulter said. Gill was indicted
on racketeering and fraud charges in 2002, fled the country
after finding out about the charges, and was captured in Spain
earlier this year. He is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 4.
New York lawyers indicted with Gill were acquitted in 2003 after
a Colorado jury decided they had been defrauded by Gill. A San
Diego financial consultant pleaded guilty to commercial bribery
and received six months of probation.Two
other defendants in the case pleaded guilty to misdemeanors
and received probation.
helped build two other Black Hawk casinos and, despite the setback,
continued to pursue the Colorado Mint project. Even with Weiser
and Lefton's backing, the project isn't a sure bet.
Imperial Bank of Commerce will underwrite a $200 million bond
offering for the project, according to financial documents.
It has received a building permit from the U.S. Army Corps of
it has not received an excavation permit yet, said Sean McCartney,
community planning and development director for Black Hawk.
Hawk's last new casino, the Mountain High, known then as Black
Hawk Casino by Hyatt, was built four years ago.
"It's going to be a good stand-alone project," McCartney
said of the Mint. "It's not going to require help from