Las Vegas was devastated during the economic crisis of the late 2000’s. Some gaming and real estate analysts wrote off the largest U.S. gaming market completely at the time.
Las Vegas limped along during the years after the biggest economic downturn in 80 years. The downtown district transformed into a community through efforts of the Downtown Project and other investment groups.
The Las Vegas Strip survived after reinventing itself. The dayclub and nightclub industry found its true form during the Great Recession. New dining options hit the Strip, helping to keep it fresh. Lodging remodels moved towards boutique-style hotels, catering to the new era of Las Vegas tourists.
Visitation hit about 39.7 million visitors in 2012 and 2013 before breaking 40 million for the first time in 2014, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. This proved that Las Vegas had returned to its previous glory, if not better than ever.
Many stalled and new projects are currently under development. This shows optimism in the investment community that the recession is over in Las Vegas.
MGM Resorts is building an arena behind New York New York on the Las Vegas Strip. The arena will be completed in 2016.
MGM Resorts hopes to land an NHL team. Las Vegas NHL supporters already received deposits for more than 10,000 season tickets. The arena will also be configured to host basketball events.
In addition to sports, the venue will host concerts and other special events.
Resorts World, to be developed by Genting Group, is the most ambitious resort project in Las Vegas since CityCenter. The project held a groundbreaking ceremony on May 5 on the former Stardust property. A steel skeleton has sat on the 87-acre property since construction of Echelon Place ceased in 2008.
Resorts World will be a $4 billion project when it is completed. It is scheduled to open in 2018.
Las Vegas Global Business District
Riviera shuttered one day before Resorts World broke ground. The 60-year old resort will be demolished to make room for the Las Vegas Global Business District, a massive expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The former Landmark Casino property, currently utilized as surface parking for the Las Vegas Convention Center, will also be used for this expansion. The new addition will be connected to the current convention center, which will be renovated in the second phase of the development.
The project will cost an estimated $2.3 billion.
Clarion/Debbie Reynolds/Greek Isles/Paddlewheel Property
Before the Riviera sale news broke, curious onlookers watched the implosion of the 12-story Clarion Hotel and Casino on Convention Center Drive, known by numerous other names during its more than 40 years of existence. Many spectators viewed it from the top of Riviera’s two parking decks not knowing that the historic property would be the next one to be reduced to rubble.
Lorenzo Doumani is the current owner of the now-demolished Clarion, situated on six acres of land between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Las Vegas Strip. Doumani told the Las Vegas Sun that he envisions a tower where he will look down on neighboring Wynn and Encore.
That prediction may seem ambitious, but considering the new footprint of the Las Vegas Convention Center will be immediately across the street from the former Clarion property, it is certainly feasible.
The rubble of the Clarion Casino and Hotel has already been hauled away. Construction equipment remains on the site. A groundbreaking date for the former Clarion property has yet to be announced.
Lucky Dragon Casino and Hotel
Lucky Dragon will be located just west of Las Vegas Boulevard on Sahara Avenue, immediately south of the Stratosphere.
The 2.8-acre property is currently being developed into a 201-room hotel with 18,900 square feet of casino space, according to a report last year by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Lucky Dragon will cater to games preferred by Asian gamblers.
Construction on Lucky Dragon is underway. A Vegas Chatter reader provided pictures of recent development on the site.
Other projects and sales around Las Vegas show economy is rebounding
News of two recent sales near the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue broke in the past few weeks.
Tropicana Las Vegas will be sold to Penn National Gaming for $360 million. The sale is expected to close by the end of the year. Penn Gaming already owns the M Resort, located on the far south end of the Las Vegas Valley. Tropicana will be the company’s first resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Hooters Casino was acquired by Trinity Hotel Investments for $53.8 million on May 1. This was two days after the Tropicana sale was announced. The Hooters brand is expected to be abandoned by its new owners, although the most profitable Hooters in the chain will reportedly remain on the property.
The Las Vegas Club will continue to remove its focus from gaming. The property, located on the northeast corner of Fremont Street and Main Street in downtown Las Vegas, will reportedly trim its casino floor substantially to make room for a CVS or similar drug store business.
This rumor has been flying through the grapevine in downtown Las Vegas for more than one year. It appears that it will become a reality. This would crop the Las Vegas Club casino floor to about 9,000-square feet.
The Las Vegas Club shuttered more than 5,000-square feet of casino space in 2012. Its 410-room hotel closed in 2013.
All dining options were removed from the property at the time. Tamares Group, owner of Las Vegas Club, controls the Plaza Hotel and Casino. Las Vegas Club guests are referred to the Plaza for lodging and dining options.
Rock in Rio USA hosted its first concert series last weekend. The open-air arena was developed on 33 acres at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. This land is owned by MGM Resorts. It was originally acquired in the hopes of developing CityCenter North, an idea that died with the recession.
The second weekend of the inaugural Rock in Rio will be held this weekend. The first two days drew an estimated 82,000 guests.
An 18-acre site near the center of the Las Vegas Strip will come up for sale in the coming months, according to a report by Kate O’Keeffe at the Wall Street Journal. The land is located between MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood.
The property is referred to as Project Jackpot by its owner. This may be the most desirable lot on Las Vegas Boulevard not currently occupied by a major resort.
Australian billionaire James Packer acquired a controlling interest in a 35-acre site that once hosted the New Frontier in 2014. Packer is the Executive Chairman of Crown Resorts, an Australian-based gaming company.
Plans for the property have yet to be announced, but several key executives related to previous Las Vegas resorts will be involved with its development.
Tourism not only market recovering
The first phase of Downtown Summerlin opened in October. The 106-acre project, previously known as Summerlin Centre, stalled in 2008 when recession gripped Nevada and the rest of the nation.
The next step for Downtown Summerlin is to develop residential units. The Constellation condominium project will bring 16 three-story buildings to a site just east of Red Rock Resort and within walking distance of Downtown Summerlin.
One week after Clarion was imploded, Gramercy demolished an unfinished nine-story tower in the southwest part of the Las Vegas Valley. The property was once known as Manhattan West. The planned community will include office, retail, and residential units.
This list is hardly all-inclusive. Construction is evident throughout the Las Vegas metro area.
The Las Vegas gaming and real estate market looked nearly dead five years ago. Those that invested in it at the time are reaping the rewards. The only question is whether the momentum will continue as the next wave of development hits the market.
Images Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com & Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0