Drew Las Vegas Contractors Claim They’re Owed $36 Million

Posted on: June 17, 2020, 04:45h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2020, 06:08h.

Contractors involved in the construction of the Drew Las Vegas say they’re owed more than $36 million in unpaid bills by developer the Witkoff Group, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Drew Las Vegas Crew Owed Money
Las Vegas’ tallest building, the unfinished Fontainebleau, and now the Drew, has been a blot on the Las Vegas landscape and a monument to the Great Recession for the best part of a decade. (Image: YouTube)

According to paperwork filed Monday in Clark County, the lead construction team — a joint venture between ‎AECOM Hunt and Penta Building Group, which helped build T-Mobile Arena — is claiming nearly $18 million from Witkoff.

The group initially filed for $29.4 million before revising the figure, LVRJ said.

Meanwhile, architecture firm Bergman Walls & Associates has filed a lien for $12.5 million. Remaining claimants include scaffolding and demolition contractors.

Investors Jittery

The Witkoff Group halted construction in March of the $3 billion redevelopment of the project, formerly known as the Fontainebleau, as the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of businesses in Las Vegas.

In mid-April, Vital Vegas reported still unconfirmed rumors that financing for the project had fallen through.

Witkoff Group Chairman and CEO Steve Witkoff informed Nevada regulators in January that he expected to finalize a real estate construction loan of roughly $2 billion by the end of February or early March.

In early June, Business Korea claimed that a group of South Korean investors in the project — including automotive manufacturer Hyundai and the country’s state-owned casino, Kwangon Land — were missing principal and interest payments on investments totaling $490 million.

When LVRJ approached the Witkoff Group for comment on Monday’s filings, the company provided the same upbeat statement, word for word, as it did when it was asked to respond to the Business Korea claims.

This is an unprecedented time, and unfortunately, one that affects all hotels, casinos, and construction projects globally,” read the statement. “We remain committed to the project and are actively working with our partners and lenders. We are confident that we will be successful in completing the Drew Las Vegas.”

Doomed Fontainebleau

Observers hope this is not a case of history repeating. The Fontainebleau project was conceived before the last recession and its developers, Fontainebleau of Miami, had big ideas.

Named after a magnificent French chateau that was once home to the kings of France, its striking blue tower is the tallest building in Las Vegas.

But it stood unfinished on the north part of the Las Vegas Strip for the best part of a decade — an eyesore serving as a stark reminder of the financial crash — until Witkoff acquired it in 2017.

Work began on the Fontainebleau in 2007. It was rescued from Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who bought it for around $150 million before selling it on to the Witkoff Group for $600 million.

Witkoff renamed it the Drew after his son, Andrew Witkoff, who died of a drug overdose in 2011.