Thursday, June 22, 2006 | 7:10 a.m.
Harrah's Entertainment has added another big chunk of turf for its long-awaited redevelopment of its center Strip properties.
Harrah's spent $164.4 million to buy a 20-acre apartment complex on Koval Lane, east of its Harrah's Las Vegas and Imperial Palace casinos.
While Harrah's specific plans remain under wraps, it's certain the world's largest casino operator didn't buy the 658-unit Desert Club Apartments for corporate housing.
Harrah's already dominates the center Strip with Caesars and the Rio on the west side; Harrah's Las Vegas, Imperial Palace, Flamingo, Bally's and Paris Las Vegas on the east side, along with the Flamingo Road site of the demolished Bourbon Street and additional land behind those properties.
Harrah's soon will announce its master plan for the area, Chairman Gary Loveman recently said.
"What this site gives them is another strategic piece to their puzzle as they master-plan that entire area," said Brian Gordon, a principal with Applied Analysis, a real estate and business advisory firm.
The 19.6-acre site will be a significant addition to Harrah's land bank. Before the apartment deal, Harrah's owned at least 160 acres from Harrah's Las Vegas to Paris, and 1.25 miles of Strip frontage, Gordon said.
The transaction closed May 26, according to the Clark County recorder's office.
Harrah's did not respond to questions about the Desert Club purchase.
Barbara Holland, president and owner of H&L Realty & Management Co., the company that manages the apartment complex, said existing tenants are on month-to-month leases. If people are required to move, they will be given 30 days' notice, she said.
The purchase price of $8.4 million an acre is not out of line with the going rate for Strip-area property.
Earlier this month, the Edge Group paid $201.6 million for 25 acres, slightly more than $8 million an acre, east of the intersection of Harmon Avenue and Koval. The land had been slated for Las Ramblas, the now-scrapped resort casino plan fronted by actor George Clooney.
In 2005, Harrah's purchased the Imperial Palace for $370 million, following a purchase of Bourbon Street, a small hotel and casino on eight acres on Flamingo Road, as well as a few acres adjacent to the property. Harrah's has since imploded Bourbon Street.
The company also owns at least 20 land parcels immediately behind the Flamingo, Imperial Palace and Harrah's.
Loveman told the Sun that Harrah's expects the company to unify its Strip properties and real estate with its own sense of place.
"When you're visiting Disneyland, you know you're not outside anymore, that you're in Disneyland," Loveman said.
The company's properties, which now look separate and distinct, will be tied together visually for visitors.
Loveman also offered some clues to the company's future building plans.
Caesars, Harrah's, Paris and the Flamingo will remain standing after the redevelopment; the Imperial Palace won't, and Bally's future is uncertain, he said.