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Long-Awaited Las Vegas Strip Hotel/Casino May Finally Get Built

It has been a very long journey for the property but there are signs that construction has moved into high gear.

While the Las Vegas Strip contains some of the most iconic hotel/casinos in the world, it also has its share of failures. Nearly every major property sits on the site of a once-iconic brand that outlived its day, became dated, or just lost out to the glitz and glamor of whatever new mega-resort casino gets built.

In just the past few months, we've learned that the Mirage, which was built in 1989, will soon make way for a Guitar Hotel after MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report sold the property to Hard Rock International. And while parts of the original property will survive, the venue's famous volcano will not.

In addition, Caesar's Entertainment (CZR) - Get Caesars Entertainment Inc Report plans to rebrand its Bally's property on the Las Vegas Strip under its Horsehoe Brand. That move became more logical when it became public that that casino's namesake, Bally's Corporation (BALY) - Get Bally's Corporation Report had purchased the Tropicana and would redevelop it into a hotel/casino using the Bally's name.

The 4.2 mile stretch of Las Vegas Blvd. known as the Strip has undergone constant churn but one site has been in a state of turmoil since 2005. Now, it appears that this site, which sits on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center, may finally call itself home to an oft-delayed casino.

Las Vegas Blvd. street sign

What's Coming to the Las Vegas Strip?

The Fontainebleau Las Vegas has been in the works under a variety of owners since 2005. Now owned by Fontainebleau Development, the company has promised a fourth-quarter 2023 opening for the hotel/casino and there are signs that what the parent company calls a "67-story hotel, gaming, entertainment, and meeting destination," will make that deadline, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The newspaper reports that a massive construction crane has been seen at the property.

"Activity has been underway for some time at the long-unfinished hotel-casino project on the north Strip, which now has an “fb” logo near the top of the tower, work trucks on-site, Fontainebleau Las Vegas signage along its fencing, and other signs of construction," Eli Segall wrote for the paper. "This now includes a towering piece of equipment along Las Vegas Boulevard that, during Southern Nevada’s frenzied real estate bubble of the mid-2000s, was so widely deployed that people joked Nevada’s state bird should be the crane."

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Originally conceived as a sister property for Miami's Fontainebleau Hotel, the Las Vegas property was announced in 2005, and construction began in 2007 before the original owner went bankrupt. It was later owned by billionaire Carl Icahn who later sold it to real estate developer Steve Witkoff who had planned to give it the name Drew Las Vegas, with a planned 2022 opening, according to the Review-Journal

Then, the pandemic derailed those plans, before original developer Jeffrey Soffer, owner of Fontainebleau Development, "reacquired the project in February 2021 in partnership with the real estate wing of Kansas conglomerate Koch Industries," according to the paper.

The New Fontainebleau Has a New Leader

Should it make its debut in late-2023, the Fontainebleau will join recent Las Vegas Strip addition Resorts World International along with the many properties being renovated or fully rebuilt on the famous street. In addition, Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas has also added Circa, a new high-end hotel/casino.

Fontainebleau will enter this crowded space with a seasoned leader Cliff Atkinson who was just named the property's president. A well-known Vegas operator, Atkinson previously "served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Luxor Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, where, among other accomplishments, he executed a robust engagement strategy to increase employee communication and satisfaction among the property’s 3,300 team members."

Atkinson has also served as senior vice president of hotel strategy for MGM Resorts International, and as general manager for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

“I feel as if my entire career has prepared me for this role. It’s a tremendous honor to lead Fontainebleau Las Vegas and bring the property to life," he said in a press release.

When it finally arrives after a nearly 20-year-journey, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will feature more than 3,700 uniquely designed hotel rooms, more than 550,000 square feet of convention space, and a world-class collection of restaurants and shops, pool experiences, nightlife options, as well as a spa, according to the company.

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