MGM Mirage Inc. (MGM), the world's No. 2 gambling company, Thursday said its board has approved a $7 billion budget for its planned CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip.

MGM expects to break ground on the 66 acre development — which it has labeled the largest privately financed development in the United States — in mid-2006, with a projected opening in fourth quarter 2009.

After an estimated $2.5 billion in proceeds from the sale of residential units, the project, whose central casino and hotel are to be designed by star architect Cesar Pelli, will have a net cost of $4.5 billion, MGM said in a statement.

MGM had previously put a $5 billion price tag on the project, which it will fund through borrowing, cash flow, and potentially through partnerships and other financing vehicles as well as residential proceeds.

The company's board also has approved the design for the project, though the detailed design phase for the development, to include 2.3 million square feet of residential space, is still underway.

The project, which is aimed at creating a city center core in the fast-growing resort destination, is larger than New York's Soho, Times Square and Rockefeller Center combined, MGM has said.