Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 | 2 a.m.
With Lucky Dragon now open and operating, people watching Nevada’s most important industry might be wondering what’s next for the post-recession Las Vegas Strip.
Not counting the 2014 opening of the SLS Las Vegas — the project was an extensive renovation of the old Sahara — the Lucky Dragon was the first ground-up resort built on or near the Strip since the Cosmopolitan opened in 2010.
Of course, it’s not like there’s been no development on the Strip since then. Several old properties were revamped and a few major additions were made to existing resorts as the recession waned.
The SLS was one of those projects, as was the Cromwell, a Caesars Entertainment property that debuted in 2014. Caesars also added the Nobu Hotel to its campus in 2013 and then updated the Imperial Palace, turning it into the Linq in 2014. Just to the south of the Linq, Caesars built an outdoor shopping area and to the east of the Linq it added the High Roller observation wheel.
MGM Resorts opened The Delano, a reboot of The Hotel in 2014 and then opened the T-Mobile Arena and a public area next to it known as The Park, earlier this year. In addition, MGM will be opening its mid-sized performance venue, The Park Theater, later this month.
However, Las Vegas always puts a premium on what’s new. So with that in mind, here’s the latest on the more promising projects planned for the Strip.
The Big Three
There are major projects — the kind that was the norm on the Strip until the recession hit — planned for Las Vegas Boulevard.
They are Resorts World, being developed on the former Echelon site by Genting Americas; Alon, being developed across from the Wynn by a group of developers; and Paradise Park, a Wynn project planned for the golf course behind the Encore and Wynn Las Vegas.
Of the three, the mega-sized Asian-themed Resorts World seems to be furthest along.
“We have been working very diligently to refine our design,” said Michael Levoff, vice president of corporate communications for Genting Americas. “That is work that’s ongoing. Also, we have done a lot of work on the site in term of preparation.”
Levoff said construction has been completed on some of the project’s infrastructure, including a parking structure and a human resources facility beneath the parking garage. Work on the actual resort itself, could start soon, he said.
“We’re at a point where a full-site mobilization is imminent,” Levoff said. “It’s construction of our Phase One project, which is what we’ve previously disclosed, and we’re going forward on that and we expect that mobilization to occur in quarter one of 2017.”
Genting America has said it plans to spend $4 billion on Resorts World, the first phase of which will feature a hotel, multiple restaurants, over 100,000 square feet of casino space with more than 3,000 slots and table games, a significant amount of retail space, and a nightclub.
Levoff says we can expect to step inside the new resort in approximately three years. “We anticipate construction to be complete toward the end of 2019,” he said.
The CEO of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn has said his latest Strip project, a water-themed resort located on the golf course behind the Encore and the Wynn Las Vegas, is still in the design phase. During an earnings call for investors in November, Wynn said that the project is “six months into a 12 to 24-month planning phase.”
Earlier in the year, the iconic Las Vegas gaming exec revealed a rendering of the project and talked about its central feature, a lake with beaches and an island.
During November’s conference call, Wynn said he was refining his plans and described how the project, and a few neighboring initiatives, might play out.
“There will be an addition of meeting rooms and ballrooms on property that’s part of Wynn Las Vegas and Encore now, not part of the golf course project, as we up our convention profile,” he said. “Then, at the lagoon there will be new rooms available on its north and south side and other features around the lake. And then there will be adjacent properties available for smaller operators on Paradise Road.”
There is far more secrecy surrounding Alon, the third-largest project planned for a parcel of land just north of the Fashion Show mall and directly across from Encore. The site is owned by Crown Gaming, Oaktree Capital, and the CEO of the project, Andrew Pascal.
Pascal said right now all efforts are focused on getting the project’s funding in place.
“Of course, the groundbreaking is contingent on the completion of our financing,” he said. “We have been in the cycle of raising capital for a number of months. And while we’ve gotten a number of commitments and expressions of interest, we are not done. We are not in a place where we can say definitively when we can go.”
He did say, however, that much of the design for the new resort has been finished, although he wouldn’t reveal any details.
“It’s quite different than anything else that’s been built in the market to this point,” Pascal said. “The project is very advanced in terms of its design. And while there are a number of spaces that still require a fair amount of design development, I would say a majority of the project has been fully evolved from a design perspective.
“We haven’t revealed any specifics about the ultimate design. But the overall scale is quite different and the composition of overall elements is quite different from what’s on the market today.”
Earlier in the year media reports, which Pascal disputes, speculated that the project was on hold because of issues with financing.
Today Pascal reiterates that he is fully committed and believes in the project. But he also says that like anything in life, there are no guarantees.
“Like all projects of this size, it’s ambitious and exciting and complicated,” he said. “And we’re doing everything we can to work through the cycle of getting it to a place where we can get on with the execution of it.”
“Look, you’re asking the entrepreneur. I have a deep belief in the project and the theme. But I also understand that given the scale and complexity of projects like this, nothing is certain.”
Aside from the three big ground-up projects being planned, there are several other remodels, additions and expansions underway. Here’s a short list:
Monte Carlo Remodel
MGM Resorts International is revamping the Monte Carlo. The project will cost $450 million and will completely change the property, dividing it into two distinct hotels in one building: Park MGM and NoMad.
Park MGM will be a 2,700-room luxury hotel tied thematically to MGM’s outdoor space The Park just to the south. NoMad will be a separate, smaller hotel with 292 guestrooms and suites, its own lobby, swimming pool, casino and restaurants.
MGM says both projects are on schedule to be completed in 2018.
Aria Convention Center Expansion
MGM is also spending $154 million to add 200,000 square feet of space to the Aria Convention Center. The project will feature views of The Park, and MGM expects construction to be done in 2018.
MGM Parking Garage
To serve T-Mobile Arena, the Park Theater, and its other properties, MGM is building a new parking garage on the south side of Tropicana Avenue behind the Excalibur. The parking garage is about 75 percent complete and should be done next spring.
Drivers will enter from Sinatra Drive, Reno Avenue and Excalibur Drive. Pedestrians will enter and exit on the east through the existing Excalibur garage to the hotel/Strip or to the T-Mobile Arena from an exit at the northwest end. There will be a walkway under Tropicana Avenue so pedestrians can get to the arena without walking to Las Vegas Boulevard.
The Wynn Plaza
A Wynn Resorts spokesman says this 75,518-square-foot shopping venue is still on schedule to open in fall of 2017. Plans call for a two-story retail building that will extend to Las Vegas Boulevard and will include the area inside the Wynn Las Vegas where the Ferrari dealership used to be.
The Las Vegas Convention Center District
This project sits on the old site of the Riviera, now owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The first phase of the project was demolishing the Riviera and preparing the site for parking and outdoor convention use. The land has been paved and work is being completed on landscaping and fencing. That work should be done in January. The authority expects to open the site to parking in January and to its first outdoor convention, CONEXPO-CON/AGG, in March after power and other infrastructure is finished.