Clairvest brings experience 'It's a great piece of land'


The next two weeks could very well reveal the real players in pursuit of a gaming license for a potential casino in the area.

The state Gaming Commission Facility Location Board is scheduled to release the minimum investment dollar amount, which could begin to flush out some of the competition.

Last week, 22 parties submitted a $1 million application fee to construct one of four upstate casinos in the capital region, the Catskills and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes, but only a few have thus far revealed how serious they are in pursuing it to the end.

A possible contender is Clairvest Group Inc., a Canada-based investment group which has its eye on Montgomery County, specifically a swath of land right off Thruway Exit 27 straddling the town of Florida and city of Amsterdam.

"It's a great palette of land to do great things with and we are in the planning phases," Clairvest CEO and Managing Director Jeff Parr said Wednesday.

Since January, Parr has been working with Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Director Kenneth Rose and real estate broker Mick Mullins regarding a pair of properties along Route 30. The properties comprise a 512-acre site located in the town of Florida and the city of Amsterdam.

While he could not go into specifics about what is being planned, Parr said he is excited to bring economic development into the area, one of the main criteria for obtaining a gaming license.

"We think this site is one of the most attractive assets," Parr said. "It's on vacant land, it's accessible and we should be able to develop it quickly."

According to the requests for applications (RFA) which went out at the end of March, a bidder who receives a gaming license has two years to build a casino.

Parr said two years would be a challenge but accessibility at the site is one of the reasons he was attracted to it.

Clairvest is also looking into possible infrastructure improvements that may be needed but Parr said those improvements will become known as they work with various zoning bodies further down the road.

Clairvest, like many of the other developers, is waiting to hear the minimum investment requirement -- a major component of moving forward.

"You need to know what you are investing in and you need to see if all the math works," said Clairvest's investment adviser and Amsterdam native Peter Marcil, of Bentley Associates in New York City.

The group did not provide an idea of how much they were willing to invest. However, according to the RFA, the minimum price of a gaming license for the capital region is $50 million.

Clairvest Group is no stranger to investing millions of dollars into a gaming facility.

During the past 20 years, Clairvest has been involved in 22 different local market facilities, including 11 investments in gaming. These include Casino New Brunswick, in Moncton, New Brunswick; Rivers Casino in Chicago; Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand in Indianapolis; New Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J.; Latin Gaming in Osorno and Calama, Chile; and Thunderbird in Latin America, South America and Philippines.

Through its investments, Clairvest received gaming license approval for Alberta, British Columbia, and New Brunswick in Canada; Illinois and Indiana in the United States; and Chile.

Parr said the company's track record is what sets it against the competition.

"I think we have a compelling case," he said.