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Golden Gaming, Carifest Get Extensions for Financing

Dec. 30, 2004 – In a brief meeting Thursday, the V.I. Public Finance Authority approved two items – extensions for Golden Resorts and Carifest – and adopted a resolution to aid Public Television WTJX during executive session.
The PFA's approval of the six-month extension to Golden Resorts is the third extension granted to the company since it first approached the PFA for financial support in 2003.
In March of 2003, the PFA, chaired by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, approved a resolution issuing $41 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds as a way of encouraging developer Paul Golden, owner of Golden Resorts, to build a convention center for St. Croix as part of his planned casino and resort complex. (See "PFA Backs Convention Hall, Not Golden Gaming ").
However, the issuing of the funds was based on the condition that Golden Resorts obtain an irrevocable financial commitment by Sept. 30 of that year, along with necessary Coastal Zoning Management permits and conditions requested by its lenders.
The evidence of financial backing was not provided by the deadline and the company sought an extension of the resolution. The PFA, indicating its support for the center being built on St. Croix, granted Golden Resorts an extension to July 5, 2004. The authority later granted another extension to the company to Jan. 5, 2005.
In a letter dated Nov. 24, Golden Resorts attorney Treston Moore asked the PFA to grant another extension to the company for six additional months ending Oct. 5, 2005.
Moore attributed the company's reasons for seeking an extension to delays by the Board of Land Use Appeals in approving needed permits.
Moore stated the board determined Golden's right to a major coastal zone management permit for the project after the company gave an oral presentation in a public hearing in September, but has not met since to vote on the approval.
"My client and the financial institutions that have continued to stick by us throughout this inexplicable ordeal doubt this can be a continuum of negative random factors and look to me for a more complex explanation," Moore stated, adding he had none to give except to say the board would probably not meet until January to vote on the Golden permit, hence the need for an extension.
PFA Executive Director Kenneth Mapp said the authority voted to approve the extension because of the "issues" Golden Resorts had indicated they were facing in their letter.
The PFA also approved a one-year extension for Carifest, a company that has plans to build a theme park on St. Thomas. In 2001, the Senate had approved legislation making the theme park a "public benefit" corporation, paving the way for public financing. (See "'Public Benefit' Status is Big Boost for Carifest ").
The authority, in a resolution, had provided for $10 million from the proceeds of the 2003A Series bonds to be deposited in the Carifest Guaranty Reserve sub account to fund a guaranty reserve of the Carifest Theme Park on St. Thomas.
However, the resolution had stipulated that financing of the park be closed by Dec. 31 or the money would be transferred to another account to be used on capital projects as directed by the PFA.
In a letter dated Dec. 6 to Mapp, Carifest President Eric Matthews requested the extension.
"The $10 million PFA loan guarantee has been critical to opening funding doors to Carifest that were not previously open," Matthews said.
Matthews said the PFA loan guarantee made it possible for GE Capital to provide $67 million in principal debt financing for the Carifest project.
"If it were not for the $10 million PFA loan guarantee, Carifest would not be in a position to complete its financing, thus we are grateful to you on behalf of the PFA for giving us this opportunity," Matthews continued.
In other matters, the PFA, during executive session, voted to approve a resolution to provide financing for WTJX for the purpose of expansion and the purchase of additional land.
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