Jordan takes a shot!

May 24, 2005 2:37 AM

Basketball legend Michael Jordan is betting on Las Vegas, and NBA Commissioner David Stern can’t do anything about it.

Jordan, who retired from professional basketball two years ago, has teamed up with Diversified Real Estate Concepts of Chicago in a $600 million luxury condominium project to be built adjacent to the Ellis Island Casino on Koval Lane.

In the past, Jordan and his gambling habits frequently caused headaches for Stern and the NBA, which doesn’t allow owners or players to hold interests in gaming businesses that take bets on NBA games.

But since Jordan is no longer affiliated with an NBA team and won’t have a financial interest in the condo resort’s casino, he should survive NBA scrutiny.

Jordan’s "investment" in the project — Aqua Blue Luxury Condominium Hotel Resort & Spa — will include a Michael Jordan Steakhouse like the one he operates in the Mohegan Sun Casino, Jordan’s 23.sportcafe bar and grill, partial ownership of a rooftop nightclub and licensed use of his name for a 65,000-square-foot sports club.

"I’m pleased to be expanding my group of restaurants into Las Vegas, which has become one of the country’s top dining destinations," Jordan said in a statement. "Additionally, my passion for training and athletic excellence has led me to create the state-of-the-art Michael Jordan Athletic Center, which I feel will be the perfect fitness facility."

The 825-unit condo complex will feature Jordan’s two restaurants, a "boutique" casino of about 12,000 square feet, European-style health spa, rooftop and 11th floor pools, waterfalls and cabanas.

Jordan’s fitness facility will feature modern exercise equipment, two basketball courts, tennis court, running track, aerobics rooms and personalized trainers.

Condo units will sell from $395,000 to $1.2 million. Groundbreaking is scheduled for September with completion expected by fall 2007. The resort will be built where the Super 8 Motel now stands, adjacent to Ellis Island Casino & Brewery.

Ellis Island has struck a deal with Diversified Real Estate Concepts to manage the boutique casino, which will be connected to a remodeled Ellis Island Casino, whose appearance will be altered to match Aqua Blue’s architecture.

An Ellis Island official said the casino, which is famous for its bargain priced restaurant, brewery, locals-oriented slot floor and weekend karaoke contests, won’t change much with the Aqua Blue connection.

"We’re not going to abandon our loyal following," said a casino shift manager. "You’ll still be able to get our famous beer-battered shrimp, $4.95 steak dinner, fresh-brewed root beer and all those great video poker machines."

Aqua Blue is one of two condo hotels being developed by Diversified. The other, the 17-story Platinum, is being built on the southeast corner of Koval Lane and Flamingo Road, just north of Ellis Island.

Construction on Platinum began last month with completion scheduled for spring 2006.

Diversified Real Estate Concepts is wholly-owned by Michael Peterson, who has developed dozens of recreational condominium, hotel and commercial real estate projects over the past 18 years.