Imperial Pacific International CNMI LLC has asked the CNMI government for an extension on its deadlines.
In a letter to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the company, which is building a casino hotel in Garapan, requested for an amendment to its casino license agreement in the hopes of extending the implementation of its schedule deadlines.
In his letter, a copy of which was furnished to the Saipan Tribune yesterday, IPI chair Mark A. Brown listed nine reasons justifying their request to amend the casino license agreement, or CLA, to extend the 36-month deadline but no later than 42 months, of completing the structure of the integrated resort.
The CLA between IPI and the CNMI Lottery Commission, which approved the license, was signed in 2014, giving the lone licensee on Saipan the deadline of finishing the casino resort this year.
Imperial Pacific Resort was scheduled to have a soft opening last Lunar New Year, Jan. 28, but moved it to the first quarter of 2017 or in March.
Brown cited CLA’s Section II, which states “the Office of the Governor shall have authority for enforcement of the terms and conditions of [the] license agreement except for the elements specifically identified for control by the [Commonwealth] Casino Commission.”
Torres, in a statement, said they have already received the legal opinion of the Office of the Attorney General regarding the CLA and are already reviewing it. He said he appreciates the OAG’s concerns but disagrees with some of the details and conclusions in the opinion.
Saipan Tribune tried to get a copy of the OAG opinion but acting Attorney General Lillian A. Tenorio declined to provide one.
“It appears that portions of AG’s opinion have somehow been received by Imperial Pacific who wrote [to us yesterday] and requested an opportunity to address the concerns raised in the legal opinion,” said Torres, who added they are also reviewing IPI’s letter.
He said he sees this as a chance to consider amending the CLA “to slow the rate of development on the island of Saipan and to plan for a more sustainable growth rate that allows for the island’s infrastructure, cultural, and environmental impacts and other overall economic considerations to keep pace with the economic consequences resulting from the introduction of gaming on Saipan.”
CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero said IPI still has more than two months to operate its temporary Live Training Facility at the T Galleria. “[IPI’s] temporary Live Training Facility was approved by the CNMI Lottery Commission. They are authorized to operate up to the end of April 2017.”
“As such, they are not in breach of this part of the Casino License Agreement as we are still in February.”
Brown said Typhoon Soudelor’s onslaught on Saipan in August 2015 also had an impact on their construction site in Garapan. “At the starting phase of construction, [IPI] had one heavy equipment: an auger and two pile drive machines.”
The auger is used to drill holes up to 60 feet in order for the drive pile machines to drive the piles for another 60 to 130 feet for the structure’s foundation. “The auger was extensively damaged during the storm, rendering it inoperable.”
Limited cement supply, unpredictable ground condition, dewatering issues, air rights agreement for tower cranes, inclement weather, lack of readily available skilled laborers, length of time to execute public land lease for Garapan, and Mariana Resort & Spa’s lease expiration are the other reasons cited by Brown.