Tuesday, May 22, 2001 | 11:06 a.m.
The owner of the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip is this week showing off a "cloud" structure that will hover over the newly remodeled and expanded shopping and entertainment center.
Towering almost 200 feet high and more than 700 feet in length, the massive steel canopy cloud will front the 840,000-square-foot Fashion Show Mall, currently undergoing a $300-plus million expansion.
The structure is aimed at giving the property a more distinct identity on the Strip and drawing more foot traffic to the mall. A model of the project is on display at the International Council of Shopping Centers annual spring leasing convention, where mall operators nationwide go all out to try to sign up tenants.
The Fashion Show mall is owned by Columbia, Md.-based developer the Rouse Co., which is also parent to the Howard Hughes Corp., developer of Summerlin and the largest developer in Las Vegas.
"We've wanted to do something that gave the property an identity on the Strip. At 200 feet high and more than 700 feet long, the 'cloud' will let people know where the shopping center is," said David Tripp, Rouse director of investor relations and corporate communications.
"In terms of looking at the entrance of Fashion Show, the 'cloud' gives it high recognition and also gives public protection to the sun. It also has entertainment and media value. There could be graphics and a light show on the underside of the canopy," said Bob Rubenkonig, Rouse's associate director of corporate communications.
"And it'll be different from the Fremont Street Experience lights display. For example, if Calvin Klein is showcasing a fashion show within the mall, it would show up on (a 400-square-foot) video wall and the underside of cloud canopy," he said.
Rouse officials didn't specify the construction cost of the "cloud" project.
Conceptualized by Los Angeles-based Altoon & Porter Architects LLP, the revamped mall is expected to double its size to about 1.9 million square-feet by fall 2003.
It has signed on three new anchor tenants to date: Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's Home and Seattle-based Nordstrom, which will also open its first full-line store -- expected to be about 180,000 square feet -- in Las Vegas by October 2002. Existing anchors Niemann Marcus, Robinsons-May, Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillard's and Macy's are expanding.
Niemann Marcus will add about 58,000 square feet to its existing 102,000 square footage, while Robinsons-May will double its store size to 200,000 square feet. Saks Fifth Avenue will grow to about 160,000 square feet from 64,000, while Dillards will add about 74,000 square feet from its current 126,000. Macy's will develop a 200,000 square-foot store, replacing an existing 134,000 square-foot store.
"Saks will be moved from its current location at the corner of North Fashion Show Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard to a bigger location between Bloomingdale's Home and Macy's," Tripp said. "We're also adding 200,000 square feet of new small store space that conjoins the department stores located in the west part of the project. The western part contains Dillard's, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, Robinsons-May and Bloomingdale's Home. We've already got a lot of potential tenants for that space," Tripp said.
The centerpiece of the revamped Fashion Show would be a massive hall with a more than 100-foot long runway within the mall for fashion shows, media events and product introductions. There will also be a 400-square-foot video wall to receive broadcasts of significant fashion events from all over the world.
"We've started expansion on Niemann Marcus and Macy's. Basic construction has also started on the Strip and on parking garages and underground parking," Rubenkonig said. "We're also demolishing the Sfuzzi restaurant to make way for the expansion of Niemann Marcus and demolishing the Dive restaurant to make way for the construction of the Las Vegas promenade, which will be about 72,000 square feet long."
"To make the promenade more pedestrian-friendly, it will be connected to the second level of the mall by a long runway outside the mall," he said.
Remodeling on the west part of the project is expected to be completed by fall 2002, while the "cloud" canopy will be completed by fall 2003, he said.
Rubenkonig said Rouse remains bullish on the outlook for the retail industry in Las Vegas.
"You've got 36 million visitors and 1.4 million residents here and sustainable growth. Las Vegas has seen downturns in the economy. At worst, growth here has been flat but never been bust."
"Las Vegas has to be current, different, exciting and lively, and as long as the city keeps doing things to remain at the cutting edge, retail growth isn't likely to slow. And with the new video and entertainment at the revamped Fashion Show mall, that will suck people into the place."
Meanwhile, Rouse's Las Vegas plans include construction of Summerlin Center, a 1.5 million-square-foot mall in Summerlin, east of the Beltway between Sahara Avenue and Charleston Boulevard.
Four anchor tenants including Dillard's, Macy's, Robinsons-May and Lord & Taylor have signed on for the Summerlin Center, which is set for completion in spring 2005. Tripp said discussions are still ongoing for another two more anchor tenants.
The project also includes two community shopping places called Canyon Pointe Community Retail Center and South Square Plaza Community Retail Center, which will be anchored by "big-box" retailers. It also includes three neighborhood centers, Center Pointe, The Gardens and South Square, which will be anchored by grocery stores.
Tripp said construction on the Summerlin Center will likely begin in late 2003 once the Fashion Show's expansion is completed.