CNMI Approves Lease Agreement For Tinian Casino

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$360 million Alter City investment to begin next year

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 3, 2014) – After more than a month of discussion and review, the Department of Public Lands’ lease agreement with Alter City Group, which wants to build a $360 million casino on Tinian, was approved by the Legislature on Friday.

During the joint session all 28 members of the Senate and House voted unanimously to approve the land lease agreement which involves the construction of a hotel-casino next year.

Each of the 28 lawmakers expressed concerns regarding the project, specifically about the Tinian dumpsite and its closure.

Rep. Ramon Tebuteb wanted to make sure that the dump site issue will be addressed properly by the investor and by the CNMI government.

Senate Vice President Victor B. Hocog said the government should address the issue as soon as possible.

Sen, Frank Borja of Tinian said these concerns were already discussed with the investor and DPL.

He said Alter City made a commitment and is willing to assist in the relocation and rehabilitation of the dumpsite. He believes there is ample time to address this concern.

Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero said the dumpsite is an issue that requires funding.

Rep. Ralph Yumul said the Legislature should come up with a joint resolution for the needed funding, adding that the problem is not just Tinian’s but the CNMI’s as well.

Rep. Richard Seman said the project should move forward, adding there is no reason for any delay since the CNMI needs this kind of investment for economic growth.

Sen. Pete Reyes said instead of questioning the investor’s lease agreement, the investor should be thanked for showing interest in investing in Tinian despite the dumpsite issue .

Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero said he is in support of the project and urged his colleagues to support it too, adding it’s a big opportunity for the CNMI.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos yesterday commended the Legislature for approving the land lease agreement.

"That’s good because it goes to show that there’s still room for improvement. I want the Tinian community to have additional opportunities for economic growth. Instead of just putting things in one basket, it’s good to have more. I support the people of Tinian and the entire leadership of Tinian is strongly supporting this project," the governor said.

DPL Secretary Pete A. Tenorio said he will ensure that Alter City Group complies with all the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.

Alter City Group vice president Ken Lin and chief executive officer Edvon Sze said they were happy that their lease had been approved, adding that they will now take the next step.

They both thanked the lawmakers for approving their lease agreement.

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