Architect Richard Rogers Partnership has teamed up with a South African billionaire to design the hotel for a major casino complex planned for the Millennium Dome.
Rogers has been hired by Sol Kerzner, the entrepreneur who opened South Africa’s first casino at Sun City, to design a landmark hotel that would be located next to the huge entertainment complex planned by Kerzner and his American partner Philip Anschutz.
Anschutz’s firm, Anschutz Entertainment Group, already has outline planning permission for a 20,000-seater music and sporting venue that would sit inside the Dome itself, which was also designed by Rogers’ practice. Kerzner has agreed “in principle” to operate a £210m casino complex, which would include a hotel resort.
The hotel, which could accommodate 600 beds, has already been designed by RRP but its future depends on whether the development achieves regional casino status.
The government initially announced it would give licences to eight regional Las Vegas-style casinos, before reducing the number to just one.
Tobin Prior, chief executive officer of UK gaming for Kerzner International, confirmed that RRP had been hired for the hotel scheme.
He said: “We’ve briefed RRP to do some conceptual design work for us but it’s all contingent on the gaming legislation. We’re not going to build a hotel if there’s not a casino.”
An insider to the process said that the designs had been drawn up and would be put forward to the Greenwich planners if required.
The source added that the hotel could be linked by a bridge to the Dome itself. The casino, meanwhile, could be sited inside the Dome, but details of its location are still being worked out.
Kerzner, who owns a seven-acre estate in Monaco, has been constantly in the headlines since he set up Sun City in the late 1970s. This project, located in rural South Africa, included a casino, four hotels, a man-made lake, two golf courses, a 6000-seat entertainment arena and a series of water rides, and is the country’s second most visited attraction for international tourists. Many criticised it for catering to wealthy white tourists at the height of the Apartheid era, but Kerzner, who has since built up a £1bn global empire, is popular in his home country. Nelson Mandela has described him as “by far the greatest entrepreneur in this country’s tourist business”.
Kerzner’s empire includes casinos in Connecticut and Atlantic City in New Jersey and eight beach resorts in Mauritius, Dubai and the Maldives.
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