Zoning OKs height increase for Grand Mariana


The Commonwealth Zoning Board approved on Thursday the request of Best Sunshine International, Ltd. to increase by six and a half feet the height of its Grand Mariana Casino & Hotel Resort project at the Samoan Housing in Garapan.

Zoning administrator Therese T. Ogumoro said that, in its zoning variance application, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC requested for an increase to the height of the Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort to 292 feet from the previous 285.4 feet due to soil condition at the site.

Ogumoro said Best Sunshine’s engineers discovered that soil or ground condition warrants them to increase the height a little bit due to shallowness and strength of the ground.

Ogumoro said Best Sunshine did not request for other further changes to the 373 rooms and 296 parking spaces that the Zoning Board had previously approved.

At the hearing, no one made a comment from either the public or Best Sunshine.

Board member Joe Ayuyu Jr. moved to adopt the amendment to increase the height of the Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort by six feet and six inches.

Board members Ayuyu, Bruce Bateman, and Herman Sablan approved the request. Board chair Diego Blanco recused from the matter for conflict of interest.

Best Sunshine did not say how much it will cost for this additional six feet and six inches.

In its previous request to increase the number of rooms and height, and decrease the parking spaces, Best Sunshine claimed it is pouring in $25 million in order to build additional 119 rooms, bringing to a total number of 373 rooms at the cost of $190 million for their Grand Mariana Casino & Hotel Resort project.

Last October, the Zoning Board unanimously approved Imperial Pacific’s request to amend its previous conditional use permit in order to increase the number of rooms for the project, increase the height, and decrease the parking spaces. Imperial Pacific is the mother company of Best Sunshine.

Imperial Pacific then proposed to increase to 119 rooms from the original plan of 254 rooms; decrease by 127 the 254 parking lots; and increase the building’s height by 50.47 feet.

The Grand Mariana’s structure includes beachfront villas, pools, and two casino floors. The slab tower is 14 stories high with a total height of 285’-4” feet above. The total gross floor area is 1,219,495 square feet.

Grand Mariana is Phase 1 of Best Sunshine’s $7.1-billion integral casino resort plan in the CNMI.

At the Zoning Board hearing last October, Best Sunshine chief operating officer Matt Harkness said what they have seen is that there is really a dynamic development that occurs in the airlines and hotel industry.

Harkness said airlines want to bring more flights into “this little known place” and that the only way to increase the frequency of flights for the people coming to the island is by increasing the number of hotel rooms.

Harkness said the efficient way to do with their project is to add 119 mountain-view rooms without changing the structure’s blueprints.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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