It was announced that the Fontainebleau Casino in Las Vegas will no longer reflect the white sands of the desert as one of the most prominent white elephants in the world. It is finally being completed by the Marriot Corporation in partnership with Witkoff, a real estate concern with worldwide reach, based in New York City.
The hotel will have 4000 rooms and along with the casino will be renamed The Drew in memory of Steve Witkoff’s son.
Planning to Showcase Design
Witkoff, CEO of the real estate company that bears his name, declared that he was excited with the project from a design perspective. He used the term “design-forward” and said that even though the project had been put on hold since the financial crisis of 2009, the design was so ahead of its time that he saw great potential for Witkoff to put its own unique imprint on the project.
The hotel and casino are in the same general location on the Strip as Circus Circus Casino. It began as a 2.9 billion dollar project by Fontainebleau but had to be abandoned when Fontainebleau couldn’t get financing to complete the project.
The Strip Still in Recession Angst
It has been a long time since a casino resort has opened in Las Vegas. The last one to open was the Cosmopolitan in 2010. The great recession undoubtedly has had a large effect on big scale projects in Las Vegas and elsewhere. It has not been determined how much the online casino boom of the last decade has tamped down the grandiose plans to build casino resorts in the United States.
Big Profit for Tycoon
The Fontainebleau white elephant was bought by Carl Icahn in 2010 for 150 million dollars and he sold it to the present partnership for 600 million dollars.
A New Approach to Land Based Casinos
Tony Capuano of the Marriott Group said that one of the things that attracted Marriot to the project was the convention center that is already part of the resort. The convention center will have 500,000 square feet (50,000 square meters) of convention and meeting area.
Having a convention center as part of the resort already puts it in the category of an Integrated Resort which makes news somewhere around the world on almost a weekly basis. Integrated Resorts add water parks, convention centers, shopping, amusement parks and water parks, entertainment venues, and restaurants to a casino and hotel complex making it far more than just a casino and hotel.
The announcement of the partnership planning to complete The Drew also said that it would include shopping, nightlife options, a variety of restaurants, and an entertainment center. It is clear that even if the partnership doesn’t use the term Integrated Resort that is what they plan to bring to the Strip.
North Strip to be Completely Revitalized
The Drew will open on the northern end of the Strip in 2020 along with the much waited for Resorts World Las Vegas project that is expected to cater to Chinese tourists and Chinese-Americans. The area is less visited than others on the Strip because of the dearth of casinos there. The two new resorts will clearly bring many more visitors to the area.
The announcement that Marriot and Witkoff were going ahead with this long dormant project plus the ongoing building of the Resorts World project, indicate that experts in the field of real estate and casinos see Las Vegas as not only remaining healthy but thriving as the United States and the world emerge from the long Great Recession.
Others feel that Las Vegas may soon begin a long slow downward drift as pressure from online casinos and sports betting make inroads on what was once a gambling monopoly in Las Vegas.
If the United States Supreme Court accepts the arguments put forth by the state of New Jersey that the 1992 law known by its acronym PASPA overstepped Congress’s constitutional authority, a great deal of sports betting money will be diverted from Las Vegas to venues in all or at least most of the other 49 US states.
Thus, some observers see the new resort and casino project as a huge gamble.
Expanding Convention Center
Las Vegas has long been a foremost site for international and national conventions. The existing convention center is also located at the northern end of the Strip where The Drew and the Resorts World complexes will be.
In fact, The Drew has announced that it will be connected to the new expanding convention center via a walkway. So, there is some very big money expressing confidence that Las Vegas is far from ready to give way to the many land based casinos that have popped up across the US and the challenge from the thousands of online casinos.