On the North Las Vegas Strip, business may not quite be booming as of yet. But at least it’s not flatlining anymore, the way it has been for the last post-recession decade or so.

Fontainebleau becomes the Drew Las Vegas

The former Fontainebleau has been renamed The Drew and should be completed by 2020. (Image: Richard Brian/LVR-J)

New construction, enhancements, and upgrades are in the works, as developers ramp up plans to move ahead with several projects in the area. New casinos could add as many as 7,000 rooms to the north end of the strip, which has seen very little development since the economic downturn in 2008.

All this as the neighborhood braces to become the new home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders come 2020.

North is the New South

Until recently, most the proposed developments in the area were just faint hope for the future, but solid plans are now falling into place at least. Representatives for two new casinos laid out their vision for the North Las Vegas Strip at a recent panel discussion called “Billion Dollar Projects”, which was hosted by the commercial development group, NAIOP.

One of those casinos is the Resorts World project, which was put on hold when the 2008 recession hit. After being mothballed for years, the development was bought by the Malaysian-based Genting Group in 2013 for $350 million. Construction at the site has since resumed, and the project is on track for an opening in 2020.

Executives have big plans for the former site of The Stardust, according to the Las Vegas Business Press.

“We’re trying to capitalize on that location and just this great synergy that is happening on the north end of the Strip. Starting in the fall of 2020, we will have a 3,400 mega resort casino. If you drive by the Strip, you will see five tower cranes going up and concrete being poured and floors of the hotel tower going up. We are up to level 14,” said Resorts World Senior VP Gerald Gardner.

Another victim of the recession, the former Fontainebleau, has been snatched up by New York developer Steve Witkoff, who bought what is one of the tallest buildings on The Strip and has renamed it The Drew. It will be remodeled into a 60-story resort with 4,000 rooms and 500,000 square feet of space for conventions, also in time for the fury that will be unleashed in 2020 with the arrival of the Raiders.

Other parts of the area are getting a facelift as well. Right next door to The Drew is the 60-year-old Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), which will undergo a $1.4 billion expansion and renovation, adding more than a million square feet to its floor plan by 2023.

Allure of Non-Gaming Lures

It’s no coincidence that all this activity comes as the Las Vegas Raiders prepare to make the area their home for the 2020 NFL season. The new stadium could be in the running for the 2023 Super Bowl, but that’s not the only reason for expansion.

Tourism executives believe they’ll need the extra hotel room capacity as interest — much of it in non-gaming arenas and new sports leagues — continues to grow. The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee believes Vegas has the potential for some 600,000 more visitors annually, fueled in part by the expansion of the LVCC.

The hope is that all the new casino and convention space will work to not only drive more visitors to Sin City, but to do so without cannibalizing revenues from other existing properties on the Strip.