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Cripple Creek casino owner files lawsuit to block competitor's hotel project

May 22, 2018 Updated: May 23, 2018 at 8:00 am
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Bronco Billy's Hotel and Casino proposed four-star resort in Cripple Creek will accommodate conventions and feature a ballroom, pool, street-front restaurant, retail space, salon and spa, plus entertainment options. The hotel's Victorian- style brick facia faces historic Bennett Avenue. Photos courtesy of City of Cripple Creek

Triple Crown Casinos filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Cripple Creek and Full House Resorts Inc., appealing last month's approval of a $70 million hotel project for competitor Bronco Billy's Casino and Hotel, which is owned by Full House.

The suit in 4th Judicial District Court challenges the Cripple Creek City Council's decision to give the six-story, 200-room hotel a "Certificate of Appropriateness for a Project of Special Merit," thus granting "an exemption from (city) historic preservation guidelines," says a Triple Crown news release.

The exemption "provides for concessions that are contrary to the city's established historic guidelines which all other city businesses have been required to follow for the past 25 years," the release said.

The concessions include vacating a public street, elimination of height restrictions and allowing use of mirror, glass, steel and concrete for the hotel exterior, the release said.

The exemptions are allowed under the city's 1991 Project of Special Merit ordinance, which had never been used.

Triple Crown, which owns The Brass Ass Casino, Midnight Rose Hotel and Casino and McGills Hotel and Casino, was joined by owners of the Century and Wildwood casinos in opposing the project before the council vote.

All three casinos are planning their own hotel projects, though Century has put its on hold.

Full House CEO Dan Lee said, before seeing the suit, he was "disappointed" by the lawsuit and called it "an unabashed effort to delay or deter competition."

Bill Gray, planning and community director for Cripple Creek, said he hadn't seen the suit and wouldn't comment.

Full House bought Bronco Billy's two years ago and announced plans in November for the hotel project, which includes a conference center and parking garage. Work is to start on the parking garage this summer and on the hotel in the first half of next year. Opening is planned in 2020.

Lee said he wants the hotel to draw upscale customers, just as the 33-story, 530-room Ameristar Casino Resort Spa has expanded the market in the Central City-Black Hawk gaming district.

Full House plans to build its hotel to a quality that would earn it a four-diamond rating from AAA or a four-star ranking from Forbes magazine and would command room rates of $200 a night.

Plans also include a top-rated restaurant, meeting and event space for up to 500 people and a 600-seat events center.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

Facebook Wayne Heilman

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