Backers of the beleaguered Lucky Dragon resort have stunned their detractors by announcing the project is fully funded, a result of discovering $55 million under a couch cushion.
The resort’s principals conveyed through a news release, “Lucky Dragon is on track to be completed on schedule in late 2016, assuming our construction company is comfortable accepting lots and lots of coins.”
Lucky Dragon was originally going to be a boutique lesbian and gay resort, the Q. We are not making this up.
The announcement of Lucky Dragon being fully funded came as a shock to many observers given the resort’s rocky financial history.
In February 2016, construction halted on the partially-completed hotel-casino due to a lack of funding.
Prior to that, developers went before the City of Las Vegas to ask for $25 million in subsidies, referred to as “tax increment financing” or TIF assistance. Their pleas were rejected, putting the kibosh on an additional $30 million in bank funding.
The Lucky Dragon site on May 8, 2016. Lucky Dragon is using yellow insulation materials because unlike in American culture, where yellow is associated with cowardice, in Chinese culture, yellow symbolizes heroism.
Now, Lucky Dragon’s financial woes appear to be in the past with the miraculous discovery of $55 million.
“We became concerned when Asian financing activity dried up,” said real estate developer Andrew Fonfa. “We tried a number of fundraising avenues, including busking on Fremont Street. But the new performance circle ordinance has made it nearly impossible to finance a Las Vegas resort. Luckily, our thong investment was minimal, so it did not have a significant fiscal impact.”
To-date, $60 million of Lucky Dragon’s financing has come from EB-5 foreign investment
money, a program where foreign nationals can invest in American companies to get a U.S. visa.
The total cost of Lucky Dragon is expected to be $139 million, which by Las Vegas standards is small change.
Another Lucky Dragon principal, gaming executive William Weidner, added, “We readily admit we should have looked under those cushions much sooner. We could have avoided the embarrassment of going before city officials hat in hand. We were left-swiped by the city of Las Vegas and it still burns.”
Success is the best revenge, with Lucky Dragon’s developer Andrew Fonfa defiantly saying, “I believe our property, per square foot, will be the most successful casino ever built in Las Vegas.”
It’s just that kind of whimsical thinking that has kept the Lucky Dragon dream alive.
At right, the Allure condominium tower. At left, a wing. At far left, a prayer.
During a recent visit to the Lucky Dragon site, we personally witnessed upwards of half-a-dozen construction workers milling about in hard hats, so we can personally verify the once-stalled Lucky Dragon project has sprung back to life.
“It’s very satisfying to silence critics,” says William Weidner. “Rumors about us pulling tens of millions of dollars ‘out of our butts’ are absurd and, honestly, insulting. You don’t begin building a resort without a solid plan for financing it. We think couch cushion financing could be the wave of the future in Las Vegas. In fact, what do you think the executives at Alon Las Vegas are doing right about now?”
We’re thrilled Lucky Dragon is back on track, and can’t wait to visit when it opens later this year!