‘Improved’ Belle Grande to open by end-2013By Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Belle Grande, the entertainment complex rising as a partnership between Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment and the SM Group, is set to open its doors to the public under an amended consortium framework by the end of 2013.
The longer wait for the opening of the establishment was due to the entry of Melco, which plans to invest up to $580 million in the $1-billion project.
Belle vice chairman Willy Ocier said in a text message that the grand opening would happen by the fourth quarter of 2013.
“Melco will improve on our design and concepts,” Ocier said.
If Belle Grande opens by the end of 2013, it will thus be the second complex to open in this area, groomed by the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) as an entertainment hub after Solaire Manila of tycoon Enrique Razon Jr., who leads Bloomberry Resorts Corp.
Belle’s casino was originally a partnership between Belle and Leisure & Resorts World Corp. (LR). Leisure & Resorts World and its operators originally were supposed to lease the premises from Belle.
Pagcor, however, issued a requirement that an 800-room hotel portfolio must be up and running before the casino itself can start operations.
Belle and subsidiary Premium Leisure and Amusement Inc. agreed to negotiate and sign within 60 days a consortium agreement with Melco for the leasing, development, operation and management of certain parcels of land, including the development of the building structure and shell of a grand casino and hotel complex.
The execution of the consortium agreement is conditional upon the registration of the project site as a tourism economic zone by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Melco said.
MPEL Projects, a company based on the British Virgin Islands, or an affiliated party will now operate the gaming and non-gaming operations as lessee.
The signing of the agreement happened shortly after the men behind Melco—Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho, son of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho—visited the country last week.
Melco, through subsidiary Melco Crown Gaming (Macau) Ltd., is one of only six companies granted concessions or sub-concessions to operate casinos in Macau.
Its flagship project, “City of Dreams,” is an integrated urban entertainment resort with stylish nightclubs, 1,400 luxury guest rooms, chic dining, designer brand shopping, a contemporary casino and the The House of Dancing Water.
Belle Grande, the integrated tourism-gaming complex, is being constructed on more than six hectares of land at the Aseana Business Park in Parañaque City.
It was designed to have a total gaming area of 1.8 hectares surrounded by food and beverage outlets and luxury retail stores.
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