Lucky Dragon casino fully financed, will be finished this year, backers say

Courtesy photo

An artist’s rendering of the Lucky Dragon casino in Las Vegas.

Lucky Dragon Construction

Construction continues on the Lucky Dragon hotel-casino on Sahara Avenue near Las Vegas Boulevard Thursday, May 5, 2016. Launch slideshow »

Backers of the Lucky Dragon resort under construction just off the north end of the Strip say the project is fully financed and on track to open later this year.

The boutique Asian-themed casino project hit a roadblock late last year when Las Vegas city officials declined to help it get tax increment financing. But the Lucky Dragon now says it has secured financial commitments that have guaranteed it will be finished late this year.

Lucky Dragon Construction

A view of the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino construction site at 300 W. Sahara Ave. Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. Launch slideshow »

A statement from the planned resort said the commitments would come from the Fonfa and Weidner families, members of whom have been affiliated with the project.

Andrew Fonfa developed Allure, the condominium tower next to the Lucky Dragon site, and he’s the chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Economic Impact Regional Center, which is backing the project.

Former Las Vegas Sands Corp. President William Weidner is listed as the regional center’s president on its website, but a Lucky Dragon executive said today that Weidner’s son James is the active financial partner in the project.

The Lucky Dragon aims to be the “first casino resort to deliver an authentic Asian lifestyle experience” in Las Vegas, the project’s statement said. Its features will include signs in Chinese first and English second, multilingual staff members and a high-end tea garden.

“We really want to be a — from the ground up, in our DNA — culturally authentic Asian resort experience,” David Jacoby, the Lucky Dragon’s chief operating officer, said in an interview.

The resort will also feature a 27,500-square-foot casino, multiple restaurants serving Asian cuisine, a hotel with 204 rooms and a 4,500-square-foot spa.

The casino will emphasize games popular in Asia, such as baccarat and pai gow, and a 1.25-ton glass dragon sculpture will be suspended from the ceiling, according to the statement.

Overall, Jacoby said, the Lucky Dragon wanted to revive the idea of a “smaller, intimate, personalized, service-type environment” that “inherently gets lost” at Strip megaresorts.

The Lucky Dragon’s future was unclear in November when Las Vegas City Council members, in their capacity overseeing the city’s Redevelopment Agency, declined to advance conversations about whether the project should receive tax increment financing.

The city historically has not permitted such financing for casino projects, and the idea of potentially doing so was met with strong backlash from others in the industry. Tax increment financing would have allowed the Lucky Dragon to make use of additional property tax revenues it would generate.

But Jacoby said the tax increment funds would not have been part of the Lucky Dragon’s development budget, so the project was able to move forward. He said construction is about 70 percent complete.