MYSTERY SOLVED: MGM Bought $54M Sliver of Land to Expand Bellagio Retail

Posted on: July 1, 2024, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2024, 02:35h.

The mystery of why MGM Resorts paid $54 million for a 1.62-acre sliver of land dividing the Bellagio from the Cosmopolitan in 2023 has just been solved by leaked Clark County permit applications.

These are renderings of MGM’s plans for a new Bellagio expansion, codenamed Project Mojave, to be built in part on the 1.62 acres of land it purchased in 2023. The building in the background is the Cosmopolitan, which MGM also operates. (Image: Scott Roeben/Vital Vegas)

The expansion, according to schematics first published by’s own Vital Vegas blogger Scott Roeben, will be a three-story shopping plaza extending from the hotel’s main entrance out to Las Vegas Boulevard. It will follow the footprint currently occupied by the elevated bridge from the Strip to the Bellagio entrance, which will be demolished.

Project Mojave’s second floor, with Las Vegas Boulevard to the right. (Image: Scott Roeben/Vital Vegas)

The expansion, situated partly along the parcel sliver MGM purchased last year, will boast 400,000 square feet of high-end retail, restaurant, and club space.

According to the plans, the second floor will feature five restaurants (two of which expand to the top floor) and 17 retail spaces (five of which expand to the top floor).

The top floor will be the biggest, occupying 46,000 square feet overlooking the Bellagio fountains and Strip. The plans here apparently show a 10,000 square-foot nightclub with a 6,200 square-foot infinity pool.

A rooftop nightclub with a pool and one hell of a view. (Image: Scott Roeben/Vital Vegas)

The renderings also reveal plans to replace the current Bellagio marquee with a larger LED sign, and to build new pedestrian bridges to the Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood from the second floor, thus relieving pedestrian traffic along the Strip and street.

The plaza is referred to by the schematics as Project Mojave, but that’s undoubtedly just its code name, not what the expansion will be called.

It was designed by Marnell Architecture, whose lead architect also designed the Bellagio.

The Secret of the Strip Strip

A Google Earth image of the 1.62-acre strip of land acquired last year by MGM Resorts. (Image: Google Earth)

Back when Steve Wynn owned the Bellagio, he leased the parcel from a previous owner — involuntarily — because the owner wouldn’t sell it to him.

MGM inherited the lease when they purchased the property for $6.4 billion in 2000 and exercised the option to purchase it last year after purchasing the operating rights to the adjoining Cosmopolitan from Blackstone for $1.6 billion in 2022.

Did you enjoy the view from the Bellagio’s walkway to its main entrance? Too bad. You’ll have to pay for it soon. (Image: Scott Roeben/Vital Vegas)

Measuring a few hundred feet, the sliver had been used as a road, parking lot, and garbage storage by MGM for the Bellagio. Since it was only zoned as a vacant lot, Clark County must now rezone the area to approve MGM’s new project.

MGM hasn’t provided a timeline for its construction or completion of the project.

Interestingly, the parcel sliver is one of the last actual properties that MGM Resorts still owns on the Las Vegas Strip.

These days, when people refer to casino companies owning Strip casinos, they’re mostly referring to their operating rights.

MGM sold the property assets of the Bellagio to Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (BREIT) for $4.25 billion in a sale-leaseback transaction in 2019. Last August, BREIT sold a 21.9% stake of that to Realty Income for $950 million.

When Blackstone sold Cosmopolitan for $5.65 billion to MGM in 2021, the real estate of that resort was never even on the table. It was acquired by BREIT, the Cherng Family Trust, and Stonepeak Partners for $4 billion.