Dream Las Vegas Hotel Project May Create Security Nightmare for McCarran Airport

Posted on: March 19, 2021, 04:26h. 

Last updated on: March 19, 2021, 04:50h.

A proposed $300 million Dream Hotel adjacent to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is likely to face multiple issues when the casino-resort is presented before a public meeting in May.

Dream Hotel already requested waivers from planning and zoning rules.
Las Vegas police blocked access to a jet fuel tank at McCarran International Airport in 2017. Shooter Stephen Paddock shot at the tank during the mass casualty event. Now, stakeholders are concerned about security related to the proposed nearby Dream Las Vegas hotel. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images via Time)

The Clark County Commission initially was to review the application at an April 21 meeting. But the review was postponed until May as stakeholders continue to discuss the controversial plans.

So far, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airline pilots, and multiple commercial airlines have raised objections.

Clark County Staff Opposes Hotel Plan

Clark County Planning Commission staff also opposes the plan because of safety and zoning issues. For instance, staff recalled how gunman Stephen Paddock fired shots at an airport fuel tank in 2017 from his 32nd floor location at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

The shooter directly targeted fuel tanks about six times. He struck a single tank twice. It penetrated the tank wall.

He also killed or wounded several hundred country music festival attendees. Many people ran onto the airfield during the chaos.

There is risk of another violent incident at the airport with the presence of the proposed resort-hotel, staff said. There are also concerns about the relatively large size of the building on a 4.9-acre parcel. Plans call for the opening of a 454-room, 19-story resort hotel in 2023.

The Dream Hotel already requested waivers from planning and zoning rules. For instance, the developer wants to increase the building height to a maximum of 237 feet. Typically, 100 feet is the standard. That is a 137 percent increase.

Plans call for 38,500 square feet for lobbies, retail areas, and gaming space. Also, there will be 45,000 square feet of food, beverage, and entertainment spaces.

In contrast, one of the smaller resort hotels currently in the Resort Corridor is the OYO Resort Hotel. It has 332 guest rooms on 6.9 acres. It is the former Hooters.

Another small resort hotel is the Casino Royale. It has 320 guest rooms on 3.3 acres.

“Staff believes the proposed [Dream] resort hotel is too large of a facility for this site,” the planning document said.

“This building would be taller than the buildings on the abutting properties and would visually dominate this portion of Las Vegas Boulevard South, and would be out of character with the abutting properties,” the staff statement said.

“Based on these concerns, staff finds that the applicant has not demonstrated that the project is appropriate for this area… Therefore, staff does not support this request.”

The project also would increase risk to aircraft and passengers because of possible active shooters and the ability to throw things over a fence.

In addition, open areas on the third and ninth floors of the Dream Hotel could provide a direct line of sight for laser flashes and long-gun attacks against aircraft and helicopters at the airport.

Several airlines and a pilots’ organization submitted written concerns on the application. These include: Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, as well as the Allied Pilots Association (APA).

“The economic recovery of Southern Nevada due to the ongoing pandemic will rely heavily on the ability of these four and all other airlines to continue to operate safely and securely at McCarran,” the planning document said.

The APA noted the reduced safety and security of pilots and passengers because of the hotel’s proximity to McCarran’s property boundary.

Shopoff Realty Tries to Address Concerns

In response to the concerns, Bill Shopoff, president and CEO of Shopoff Realty Investments, told Casino.org this week, “Over the past four months, our development team has worked diligently with McCarran Airport to address their security questions.

“We retained ARUP, the top airport security consultants in the world, and created a safety and security plan that we believe will be the benchmark for new projects adjacent to airport property,” Shopoff said.

Building revisions and security enhancements have added $6 million in costs to the project, he added. “We believe these costs are worthwhile to ensure the Dream Hotel provides the safest environment possible,” Shopoff added.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also said in a 2019 document that a height waiver is not a “hazard to air navigation.

“It’s important to note the FAA’s determination is not an ‘approval’ of the project, because the FAA does not have regulatory authority over local building and land-use decisions,” the FAA added in the statement.

A McCarran spokesman this week declined to offer additional comment to Casino.org on the Dream Hotel project. He referred to existing documents on file with Clark County planning staff.

Since the first COVID-19 cases surfaced in Nevada last March, the number of passengers using the airport has declined by more than 30 million people.