By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io has said Macao Studio City primarily contains hotels and a film production project, and no casino was included in the 2008 development plan.
Lau also confirmed that the government has received the application from the developer to resume construction.
Melco Crown Entertainment has recently gained control of the long-delayed project on the Cotai Strip after buying a 60 percent stake in Cyber One Group, the developer of the Macao Studio City.
Melco Crown’s co-chairman Lawrence Ho Yau Lung said last week that construction may restart in 2012 and the property may open in 2015.
The secretary reiterated that the project will still need to comply with the revised development plan approved by the government in 2008, with the film production facility a “major component” of the property.
He said the 2008 plan does not contain any “gambling elements”, but did not disclose whether the developer has applied for gaming tables in the recent application, stressing that any casino projects are required to meet the future scale of the industry where gaming tables cannot exceed 5,500 by March 2013.
Yet, the 2008 plan has not been published in the official gazette till now. According to the land concession contract promulgated in 2001, the Cotai project included film production studios, restaurants and residential units, but no gaming amenities.
“The project mainly consists of hotels and film production facilities,” Lau told reporters.
However, Ho also said last week that the Macao Studio City is projected to have 300 to 400 tables and 1,200 gaming machines when it opens, pointing out that the 5,500 gaming table cap “will be lifted in 2013”, two years before the property is expected to open.
On the other hand, the secretary said the government is still waiting for the Lisboa Gardens developer to present a new environmental assessment report that needs to expand the investigation area to 500 metres away from the construction site on the Small Taipa Hill.
“Important findings will be released to the public after the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau finishes analysing the report together with the opinions collected from the public,” he said.
Yet, he did not give a date of when the announcement could be made.
The secretary also stressed the possibility of the developer initiating a lawsuit will not be a reason for the government to approve the construction, adding that the main consideration is whether or not the project falls within local laws.
Moreover, in response to some lawmaker claims that Lau has decided to use the illegal reclaimed land in the wetland off the Taipa Houses Museum as a bus depot instead of a greening space, he did not give confirmation but said that “a bus depot is also there to serve the public”.
He added that there is still no final decision about how the reclaimed land will be used, stressing that the government will look at “what Taipa is lacking and needs and what will better meet Macau’s development”.