The Gulfport City Council has given Robert Lubin, the casino developer of a Gulfport Harbor casino, a reprieve for two months in regards to rent. Lubin requested that the city cut his rent payments in half and this request was granted earlier this week. The developer normally pays $80,000 a month and will now be able to pay $40,000 over the next two months as he needs a financial break in the short-term to be able to secure additional funding for the project.
The casino developer is currently leasing land that is located adjacent to Jones Park with plans of building a casino resort on the land as well as on private property located next to the harbor area. The majority of the funding for the project will come from overseas investors with the total amount expected to be spent at $140 million.
Lubin is currently offering a special program to investors to secure funding but this program will expire by the end of September and the developer is far from having enough money to complete the project. The developer is hoping the program will be extended and that is confident that he will be able to secure enough funding to move forward with the casino in Gulfport.
On Tuesday, the council voted 6 to 0 to reduce the amount of rent that Lubin would pay for the property, with Councilman Ricky Domobrowski not present. The request for the reduction was made under the name Mississippi Coast Entertainment LP which is the company run by Lubin. Additional terms of the contract between the city and the company were extended for a four month time frame.
During the meeting, which Lubin left before the vote came about, the developer discussed other projects that he has completed that were successful as well as his plans for the casino in Gulfport. Lubin has hopes to open the venue by 2018. The casino has been estimated to cost from $140 million to $160 million and will have high ceilings, impressive escalators and views of the water, among other features.
Lubin currently has a 60 year lease with the city which requires the developer to pay $80,000 a month to the city of Gulfport plus to additional landowners until the venue opens. Lubin asked for the rent to be reduced for the month of August and September until he knows if the federal EB-5 Visa program will be renewed. This program is how Lubin and Kevin Preston, his business partner, were able to raise money to build the casino. With the program, foreigners are able to secure residency permanently in the US in exchange for investing in projects located in the country, with a minimum investment of $500,000.