As the Las Vegas Strip slowly gets back into construction mode with the imminent openings of the new boutique-y Gansevoort and the coming-down-the-pike Resorts World Las Vegas, Sin City’s Downtown area is also making a genuine comeback and classing up a bit. What had become a rundown and often hooker and drug dealer-ridden cesspool has, over the past 10 years, made a marked turnaround, with the addition of the Fremont Street Experience, the opening of the hipster The D where Fitzgeralds once stood, and now a new entrant is set to open soon in the Downtown Las Vegas overhaul: the Downtown Grand, scheduled to open its doors in November of this year.
Downtown3rd Revitalization Project
What was once the Lady Luck is being reborn as part of the ongoing Downtown3rd renovation project being spearheaded by the city of Las Vegas (which most people are unaware does not actually encompass the Strip, which is considered unincorporated Clark County and has no mayor).
The Lady Luck was originally built in 1964, then permanently closed in 2006 after several sales of the property, with CIM Group finally buying it in 2007 for more than $100 million. Billed as a “transformational urban real estate and infrastructure investment firm”, CIM was the right group for this overhaul, which then-Mayor Oscar Goodman referred to as an ugly mark on the downtown landscape.
“For the past several years I have seen a rotting corpse,” Goodman said of the Lady Luck in its last days. “The Lady Luck structure has been a blight.”
Construction on the new property began in Fall of 2011. Now the new Downtown Grand is accepting room reservations beginning on October 27.
“We have been working hard on this project for several years,” said Seth Schorr, the new project’s CEO. “The support of the entire downtown community has been overwhelming, and we look forward to adding another amazing element to the revitalization of Las Vegas.”
Boon to Local Employment
According to Schorr, by the time the Downtown Grand officially opens its doors next month, CIM Group will have poured “north of $200 million” into the new hotel casino and its surrounding Downtown3rd neighborhood. The new Downtown Grand is hiring 800 employees to manage its 634 rooms and its casino that will house 600 slots machines and 30 table games.
“This has been an amazing year for downtown Las Vegas,” Schorr said. “The relocation of Zappos’ headquarters, multiple new businesses in the Fremont East entertainment district and the upcoming ‘Life is Beautiful’ festival are all proof that we are in the middle of a downtown resurgence.”
And indeed, there can be no other descriptive for the massive overhaul there, an overhaul that also includes, besides the aforementioned D, the addition of the soon-to-be-completed $11 million zipline called SlotZilla, that will give those brave enough to ride it a 120-feet-above-ground view of all of Fremont Street, as well as the elegant Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
“If you look at shopping malls … they are anchored by department stores,” noted Stephen Brown, director and economics professor at the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Most of the stores are dependent on spill over from the big stores. Downtown Grand will serve a similar function.”
And in a city hit hard by the recession going back to 2008, anything that creates new jobs for locals is welcome.
Jonathan Jossel, director of Las Vegas properties for Tamares Real Estate – which includes The Plaza Hotel and Casino – is encouraged.
“We just walked through there,” he said. “It’s great. They have a totally different style than anything on the market. It has been 18 months since the remodel (of the Plaza), and the market has been a challenge,” Jossel said. “The gaming market is slowly improving.”
Fifth Street Gaming holds the new casino’s gaming license, and will operate the property as well.