Fontainebleau, Now JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd., Announces October 2023 Opening

Posted on: July 21, 2021, 07:57h. 

Last updated on: July 21, 2021, 01:39h.

The former Fontainebleau Las Vegas and The Drew, now currently known as JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd., now says the long-delayed Strip eyesore will open in the fall of 2023.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas Koch Marriott
The former Fontainebleau Las Vegas, now called JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd., is seen between Encore Las Vegas and The Strat’s observation tower. The blue structure plans to open to guests in the fourth quarter of 2023. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The towering 67-story blue behemoth has been a stark reminder of the Great Recession for more than a decade. But current owners of the unfinished Las Vegas Strip casino resort say the property will be completed over the next two years and will welcome its first guests in October 2023. 

Koch Real Estate Investments, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, acquired the vacant Strip complex in February for an undisclosed sum. Koch revealed during the purchase that it had partnered with Fontainebleau Development to complete the project.

Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of the privately held Koch Industries. The 85-year-old has an estimated net worth of $45 billion, making him the 27th-richest person on the planet. 

Koch Industries was founded by Charles’ father, Fred Koch, who developed a way to improve the method of refining heavy oil into gasoline in 1927. 

Marriott Partnership

Koch Real Estate Investments and Fontainebleau Development did not immediately respond to media requests for comment regarding the property’s planned opening. The announcement instead came from Marriott International, which has been hired by Koch and Fontainebleau to operate the resort.

Marriott International says the Strip casino “will usher in a new generation of Las Vegas resorts.”

We will feature over 3,700 rooms and suites, as well as more than 500,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. Our resort will debut Marriott International’s EDITION brand in Las Vegas and mark the Las Vegas Strip’s first JW Marriott hotel with multiple retail, spa, nightlife, pool, casino and culinary experiences,” the Marriott release announcing the 2023 opening said. 

“EDITION will feature 900+ rooms and suites located on higher floors, with stunning views of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding valley. JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd is the only integrated resort connected to the new Las Vegas Convention Center expansion via a pedestrian sky bridge,” the release added. 

Developer Hopes Third Time’s a Charm

Fontainebleau Development being involved in the troubled Strip undertaking’s completion brings the project full-circle, as Fontainebleau owner Jeffrey Soffer was the original visionary behind the blue structure. 

Fontainebleau paid $97 million for a 3.6-acre lot on the Strip in March of 2005. The company announced plans to construct a casino resort with 2,900 hotel rooms and 95,000 square feet of gaming space.

But as the Great Recession approached, the project went bankrupt after Bank of America halted its lending. Billionaire Carl Icahn purchased the unfinished structure in 2009 for $150 million and never resumed construction. 

New York real estate developer Steve Witkoff bought the property from Icahn in August of 2017 for $600 million. Another crisis — COVID-19 — led to Witkoff being unable to complete the resort. Witkoff was to name the venue after his son, Drew, who died in 2011 at the age of 22 from an OxyContin overdose. 

JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. will be the property’s third branding attempt at bringing the structure to completion. The recent opening of the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas just southwest across the Strip from JW Marriott Las Vegas Blvd. is expected to generate some excitement on the Strip’s northern end.

“We are excited to be a part of the rejuvenation and the resurgence of the north end of the Las Vegas Strip,” said Brett Mufson, president and chief investment officer of Fontainebleau Development.