Friday, May 7, 2004 | 10:42 a.m.
The owner of the Algiers Hotel, a Las Vegas landmark for almost 50 years, has agreed to sell the property to a Florida developer who plans to build a 45-story condominium-hotel in its place.
The Algiers Hotel, which opened in 1955, is currently in escrow. The buyer plans to raze it this year to make way for the new development.
The price for the 3.6-acre parcel at the corner of Las Vegas and Riviera boulevards was not released and will not become public record until the sale is final. The Clark County Board of Equalization in February valued it at $5.9 million -- though Algiers appraisers valued it at more than $20 million during land-swap talks with Clark County in 2002.
"It is in escrow right now, but in real estate nothing is over until the fat lady sings, and she's only humming now," Larry Kifer, president/chairman of the Algiers Hotel, said Thursday.
Kifer said the 105-room hotel, with a video poker bar, is scheduled to close between June and September. The property, featured in films such as Leaving Las Vegas and the Austin Powers movies, employs 25 non-union workers, Kifer said.
"We were very concerned (about who purchased the property) -- because the hotel has been in our family since 1955 -- that we get a good person that will do a great project," Kifer said.
More than two years ago, Kifer sought a land swap with Clark County for a 2.5-acre site on Harmon Avenue because of a county-planned realignment of Riviera Boulevard that would have cut the Algiers property in half.
Kifer later withdrew his request after the county decided not to realign the street, so there was no exchange in the property.
Kifer said that after he sells the Algiers, he doesnt expect to start another hotel. But he will continue to be an investor in Las Vegas, and plans to buy a penthouse in the planned Krystle Sands development.
"I will stay active in the Las Vegas business market," he said.
Marion B. Hicks built the Algiers Hotel after building the original Thunderbird hotel-casino on the Strip and the El Cortez in downtown Las Vegas, Kifer said. Kifer is a partner in the hotel with his ex-wife Marianne Hicks Kifer.
Florida-based developer F.W. "Freddie" Schinz plans to build the Krystle Sands condominium-hotel, an estimated $400 million project. Plans are to begin construction this fall with a summer 2006 opening.
The Clark County Commission already has approved plans for the 510-foot-high tower, to be built by Perini Construction Co., Schinz said. JMA Architecture Studios is the architect.
People can purchase units in a condo-hotel and can use them at-will and can opt to place the unit in a rental pool when it is not in use by its owner.
Schinz has been developing residential properties -- everything from high-rise towers to townhouses for 30 years in Florida. He currently has one of four high-rise towers under construction in Orlando, about one mile from Disney World, as part of his Blue Heron Beach Resort.
Schinz said he has been looking for a Las Vegas site for several years, and said the Las Vegas and Riviera boulevards location, near the Riviera and Circus Circus hotel-casinos and less than 1 mile from the Las Vegas Convention Center, is a perfect spot for a condo-hotel project.
"From our experience, from doing this for such a long time, when it is in Florida, people want to know if (the property) is on the beach. When they call about Colorado, they want to know if they can ski in and out. When people go to Vegas, they want to know is it on the Strip," he said. "We are truly on the Strip, which means a lot. It truly is a Strip location."
Two condo-hotel projects have been announced recently, with sales pitches of Strip ownership, but both are actually just east of Las Vegas Boulevard.
One is The Residences at MGM Grand, a joint venture of MGM MIRAGE and Florida-based development-company Turnberry Associates. The planned hotel-condo is on the site of the casino's defunct theme park, off Koval Lane behind the casino. The other is The Platinum, at Koval and Flamingo, being developed by Michael Peterson.
Lake Las Vegas has a condo-hotel at its MonteLago Village, which was the first such project to open in the Las Vegas Valley.
Like its current and future condo-hotel counterparts, Krystle Sands condos come fully furnished, from beds to linens, plates and silverware to TVs.
When built, Krystle Sands will be behind Turnberry Place, a luxury high-rise condo complex and next door to vacant land, once the site of the El Rancho, now owned by Turnberry Associates. At one time, Turnberry had plans for a London-themed casino on the site, but later put those plans on hold.
On the south side of the Riviera, the old La Concha Motel will be replaced by the $250 million, two-tower Majestic Resort and Residences under plans announced in February. That project includes a luxury Conrad hotel and a 378-unit luxury condominium development.
Schinz said his single tower and its 600 units will not compete with Turnberry's multi-tower development in which many condos are sold for millions of dollars.
"We try to deliver a project that is reasonably affordable for people who want to make this type of investment," Schinz said.
Condo units, ranging from 852 square feet to 1,329 square feet, are priced from $400,000 to more than $700,000, said Kristi Camandona, a sales associate with REMAX Benchmark Realty, which has the exclusive listing for Krystle Sands.
To reserve a unit, a $10,000 refundable deposit is required. The deposit becomes nonrefundable when contract papers are signed, which is expected to happen later this year.
Camandona said that since April 1, when reservations opened for floors four to 38, 70 percent of the units have been reserved.
Floors 39 to 44 (the tower is 45 stories tall, but "skips" floor 13) will be penthouses ranging from 2,400 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet and are not yet available for reservations, Camandona said.
Restaurants and retail are planned for the first two floors. A recreation center and pool for owners and renters will be on the third floor. A rooftop restaurant is also in the works.
"Our motto is 'own a piece of the Strip,' " Camandona said. "For once you don't have to pay $2 billion for a Las Vegas Boulevard address."