Asian firm to break ground at site of stalled Las Vegas Strip casino
By Hannah Dreier, APLAS VEGAS -- Panda habitats, tea gardens and red pagodas have never been part of the visual vocabulary of the Las Vegas Strip. But Sin City is about to get all three and much more as a Malaysian conglomerate prepares to build the first new mega-casino to come to town since the recession wiped out a slew of projects in 2008.
March 6, 2013, 12:34 am TWN
The Genting Group announced Monday that it will break ground in 2014 on the 87-acre (35-hectare) site where the partially built Echelon project has sat for nearly five years, put on indefinite hold by Boyd Gaming Corp.
Executives said they are launching the new project despite continued softness in Las Vegas gambling revenue because they are ideally positioned to capitalize on the flood of Asian tourists flocking to the Strip.
Government officials, including Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, applauded the news, saying the project could breathe new life into a tired stretch of the tourist corridor where several projects stalled during the recession.
“I think we've turned conventional wisdom on its head today,” Sandoval said, adding that he hopes the Genting project will encourage more foreign investment in the Strip.
Genting, Southeast Asia's largest casino operator, will rebrand the languishing structure Resorts World Las Vegas.
Executives say the project is designed to make tourists accustomed to the casinos of Singapore and Malaysia feel at home, and to give American tourists a taste of another culture.
It will feature pagoda-style roofs on soaring glass towers, martial arts performances, regional Chinese cuisine and what officials describe as a more family-friendly atmosphere.
The complex will include at least 3,500 hotel rooms, a convention center and a 4,000-seat theater.
Genting paid US$350 million for the property and will spend as much as US$7 billion building on it, according to Senior Vice President of Development Christian Goode.
The conglomerate plans to start construction in 2014 and open in 2016, creating tens of thousands of jobs while revamping a project many thought would remain undeveloped for years.
The steel-and-concrete skeleton of the Echelon project has stood on the north Strip since 2008, a symbol of the initial promise and disastrous end of the Las Vegas construction boom.