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Richmond Extends Deadline on Point Molate Casino Deal

Richmond’s newest political cabal, the “Casino Four” caved in to Upstream Point Molate’s plea to provide more time to patch up and cobble together a rapidly fraying casino deal. From the Contra Costa Times:

Richmond extends deadline on Point Molate casino deal

By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 01/11/2010 10:21:07 PM PST

Updated: 01/11/2010 10:25:57 PM PST

The looming deadline on a developer's pitch for a hotel-casino resort in Richmond has been extended, giving the city and the developer more time to negotiate financing and other issues.

In a special meeting Monday, the City Council voted to extend Friday's scheduled closing date by two months, to March 15. After working on the project for five years, "two additional months is really just an act of good faith," Councilwoman Ludmyrna Lopez said.

Upstream Point Molate LLC and the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians want to build a $1.2 billion resort at the former Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot. The complex would hold a 240,000-square-foot casino with 124,000 square feet of gaming, a conference center, nearly 1,100 hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, tribal headquarters, and a shoreline park and trail.

Labor unions and some residents embrace the jobs and revenue the project promises, while opponents fear it will bring traffic, crime and social problems. The developer has paid the city about $15 million so far under the 2004 land sale agreement, and it owes the remaining $35 million upon closing. Over the past few months, the city and developer have been negotiating changes in the contract.

The council's vote Monday night to extend the closing date was 4-3, with Nat Bates, Lopez, Jim Rogers and Maria Viramontes in the majority. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and council members Tom Butt and Jeff Ritterman dissented. McLaughlin and Butt say the developer has not been forthcoming with financing details and questioned if Upstream can make good on its promises. If the closing date were to pass and the land sale contract to expire, Butt said it would not prevent city officials from continuing to negotiate with Upstream to fix the problems in the 2004 deal or to talk with any other developer.

Jim Levine, head of Upstream, insists that project financing is "solid." The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, which operates the Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County, is a firm partner with sufficient funds to build a resort at Point Molate, he said.

Upstream is required to deliver a financing plan as a condition of closing, which he said he will deliver in February.