Studio City will feature more than 2,000 rooms and David Tang-designed hotel Macau Studio City, a HK$16 billion casino resort being built by a consortium of developers led by eSun Holdings, will feature hotels offering more than 2,000 rooms including Marriott and Ritz-Carlton, as well as a first-of-a-kind boutique luxury hotel to be created by Shanghai Tang founder David Tang. The resort broke ground yesterday on a 1.5 million square foot site on Macau's Cotai Strip. The developers planned to add a fourth hotel brand by the time the first phase of the project comes on stream in early 2009, Studio City co-chairman David Friedman said yesterday. The complex will initially include a 200,000 sq ft casino to be operated under a revenue-sharing agreement between Nasdaq-listed Melco PBL Entertainment, a joint-venture between Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development and Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. Taubman Centers, a real estate investment trust traded on the New York Stock Exchange, will pay an undisclosed sum for 22 per cent of the project's retail component. The initial phase of the retail complex will feature a one million sq ft themed shopping arcade, with 400,000 sq ft to be added in a second-phase development by 2011. The resort, on reclaimed land acquired by eSun in 2001 at the southern end of Cotai Strip, will also have a 2,300-seat theatre, a 4,700-person capacity exhibition and meeting centre, and television and film production facilities. Entertainment investor eSun originally intended to develop the Cotai site as a studio for use by its subsidiaries, but in 2005 announced it had submitted an application to the Macau government to build a casino resort. In April, a group of private US investors called New Cotai that includes Mr Friedman, a former Las Vegas Sands executive, and private fund management firms Silver Point Capital and Oaktree Capital Management, paid HK$1.32 billion for a 40 per cent stake in the revised Studio City project. On Tuesday, Singapore-listed property developer CapitaLand, held by the government investment arm Temasek Holdings, said it would pay between HK$659 million and HK$1.1 billion for a 20 per cent indirect stake in the casino resort. ESun retains a 40 per cent stake. Last year, eSun submitted an application to the Macau government to expand the developable gross floor area of Studio City to 6.6 million sq ft from the previously approved 3.66 million sq ft. Should eSun be successful, CapitaLand's initial commitment of HK$658 million would rise to HK$1.11 billion and New Cotai's investment would increase by a proportionate amount to more than HK$2 billion. In a departure from traditional layout, Las Vegas casino designer Paul Steelman's plan will channel visitors arriving at the complex through an expansive cinema-themed retail arcade and live recording studios before reaching the actual gaming tables. 'Everybody in Macau knows how to find a casino,' Mr Friedman said.