It’s becoming an all-too-familiar topic. Imperial Pacific International’s (IPI) mammoth casino project on the U.S. territory of Saipan has repeatedly seen construction delays that push the grand opening of its hotel operations back…and back. The company’s Imperial Palace had expected to see the hotel operations ready by July 2018, then indicated that it would probably be ready to go by August before requesting another extension as the hotel needs another six months to be finished—at a minimum. According to the latest information by IPI officials, the hotel is only 69% complete.
Eric Poon, VP for construction with IPI, confirmed that the project is getting there, but that it is still well behind schedule. He said that the completion percentage is based solely on the hotel portion of the resort, adding, “The work that we have done so far—the foundation and basic infrastructure, along with the calculations and schedule of our project—we don’t have a special tool to calculate, unless I actually talk to my team.”
Construction on the project is targeting three different areas—the front hotel tower, the resort hotel and the north courtyard. Poon asserted, “Everything is moving forward and on target to complete by the end of this year. We put in another 10 percent in the resort hotel’s building façade. But for us, this is not fast enough; hopefully, we can improve it in the near future.”
IPI has said to be “working diligently” to make up for lost time, but it hasn’t really succeeded. The completion of the hotel by this summer was a condition of the company being granted a casino license, and now that licensing process is being called into question. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Lottery Commission is expected to meet this week to discuss the construction extension request and, possibly, the future of IPI’s casino license.
Imperial Palace is an integrated resort for Saipan, the first on the island. It will offer between 200 and 300 gaming tables and up to 400 slot machines, the hotel accommodations and dining and entertainment facilities. Initially expected to cost $500 million, that budget was overrun last year with no indication on how much has now been spent on construction.