The former Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall (seen here) is being transformed completely into the Gansevoort Las Vegas for an early 2014 opening

Since the recession hit Las Vegas big time five years ago, it’s been a long dry spell without any new casino openings. Several that were partially built were then abandoned, although a few of those, such as the Echelon-now-Genting-Resorts-World, are on their way back up.

Luxury Boutique Hotel Set to Open in 2014

But before that behemoth is completed, a smaller but nonetheless very visible property will be making its debut: the formerly tacky Barbary Coast-turned-Bill’s-Gamblin’-Hall that is being transformed into the Gansevoort Las Vegas for an early 2014 opening.

The property – in a prime real estate spot right opposite Caesars and the Bellagio, on the corner of Flamingo and the Las Vegas Strip – is getting its makeover courtesy of Caesars Entertainment Corp. (whose spending habits, despite the highest debt ratio in the gambling industry, makes any sugar daddy’s girlfriend look frugal) and W.A. Richardson Builders.

The property has an interesting history, as so many casinos do on the Strip.

Special Permits Required

When casino impressario Michael Gaughan – who also owns the equine stable-equipped South Point on the far south Strip – first bought the 1.7 acre property back in 1979, he built the Barbary Coast on it, but not without  jumping through some hurdles. After razing a run-down motel that sat on the site, Gaughan had to apply for special permits from the Clark County commissioners to do something unusual: add parking levels above the ground-floor casino and below the three-story hotel, as street parking was out of the question at the busy corner.

“No one ever did that before,” said Gaughan, who eventually added 50 hotel rooms and got rid of one parking floor to do it.

With the new $185 million incarnation, the Gansevoort will be breathing fresh life into what was an extremely outdated casino for such key real estate. A 300-seat restaurant bearing sexy TV food diva Giada De Laurentiis’ name will offer diners views, via full-length windows, of the spectacular Bellagio fountains across the street as well as the faux Eiffel Tower at the neighboring Paris hotel casino.

New parking is going in on the building’s north side, and where the old parking was will now be a grand lobby, the ubiquitous upscale retail area, and a fitness center.

Although now gone, Gaughan notes that the former Barbary Coast property made him rich, and launched his other Las Vegas casinos.

“The business out of the Barbary paid for the Gold Coast, it paid for The Orleans and it paid for the Suncoast,” said Gaughan, who later sold all of his Coast Casinos to Boyd Gaming in 2003 for $1.3 billion.  He kept South Point, renaming from its original “South Coast” to avoid brand confusion. Not a bad return for his original $11.5 million building cost on the Barbary Coast.

The new Gansevoort will be quite the tiny player among giants in that area of the Strip; it will only have 188 rooms and suites. But Caesars Regional President Eileen Moore – who also runs the Flamingo and soon-to-be opened Quad (where the Imperial Palace once stood), believes the small and exclusive aspect will work in the property’s favor.

“This will be the first true luxury boutique hotel on the Strip that is not located inside another facility,” Moore said. “That sets it apart for the customer who is looking for a boutique stay in the heart of the city.”