Friday, December 15, 2017

Fontainebleau Becomes Project Blue with Hope for Revitalized North Las Vegas Strip
Fontainebleau Becomes Project Blue with Hope for Revitalized North Las Vegas Strip

The new owners of the Fontainebleau have renamed it Project Blue and are hoping to get the abandoned resort project in the black.


The new owners of the Fontainebleau on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip have changed the name to Project Blue and are resuming construction on the longtime uncompleted resort. (Image: Review-Journal)

New York developer Steve Witkoff and Miami investment firm New Valley are resuming construction and there may be hope that the long-vacated tower on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip might be moving forward.

The group has owned the development since buying it from Carl Icahn in August for $600 million. Icahn bought it in 2010 out of bankruptcy for approximately $150 million. In November the new owners were granted a permit from Clark County for the garage and a temporary trailer.

The Penta Building Group, who helped build T-Mobile Arena at the other end of the Strip, has been hired to finish the proposed 3,815-room casino resort.

Witkoff and New Valley have been mum on any specifics about one of the tallest buildings in the city at 60 stories high. Other than a press release after the sale was announced four months ago that said in part: “(It) identified numerous ways to unlock the significant underlying value of the property,” there have been not even a hint of what the plans are for the seven-year eyesore that has been a constant reminder of the devastating effects of the recession.

New Hope for North Strip

Past the Wynn and sister property Encore on the famed street is evidence of uncompleted and troubled resorts, but there are signs that the empty lots and half-finished structures could be getting some much-needed attention. In addition to Project Blue two other projects could be moving forward soon.

On Wednesday Steve Wynn announced he had bought the land across from his Strip resorts from Crown Resorts. The Australian company had planned to build Alon Resort on the land but pulled those plans a year ago and put the site on the market.

Wynn bought it for a reported $336 million and said in a release that they plan to develop it in the future, but gave no specifics.

Ex-NBA player Jackie Robinson expanded his North Strip project in October to include 2,000-rooms, and a 63-story hotel tower to his plans, as well as a 240,000-square-foot conference center, 24-lane bowling alley, 2,500-seat showroom and hotel wedding chapel.

Too Little Too Late

All the activity might not come soon enough to save the SLS though. The resort on the former sight of the Sahara has struggled since opening in 2014. They have been the object of several lawsuits, including one filed a week ago by 60 Chinese investors.

They contend there were promised U.S. permanent resident cards in exchange for $545,000 each but have not received the documents. They also claim the resort is near bankruptcy.

Original owners Stockbridge Capital Partners sold the resort to Reno casino owner Alex Meruelo in May for an undisclosed sum. Negotiations continue and the deal may not be finalized until sometime in 2018. Meanwhile the resort is reportedly continuing to lose money.

The last time the company revealed its finances was September 2015 when they stated they had $584 million of long-term debt outstanding.

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