[toc]It may look like The Strip is getting a glitzy new casino. However, in Las Vegas, looks are frequently deceiving.
In reality, the new fixture is an old eyesore. The abandoned Fountainebleau casino project finally got a wrap, covering the unfinished construction project. If rumors are true, it could be getting a more long-term lease on life from a mystery buyer.
Casino first developed in 2005
The Vegas casino project first came about in 2005. The intent was to create a sister property for the Miami, Florida Fountainebleau Hotel. Construction began on the 63-story property in 2007. Then it halted in 2009 during the recession.
Casino mogul Carl Icahn bought the property in bankruptcy court for $150 million. From the beginning Icahn did not seem interested in developing the property. In fact, he auctioned off furnishings for the property less than a year after purchase.
So, the casino sits unfinished on Las Vegas Blvd. It is difficult to miss too, as it is the second-tallest building in town, trailing only Stratosphere.
After pressure from Clark County to do something about the eyesore, Icahn finally relented and started installing a wrap on the building this month:
It’s not a lot, but it’s not nothing. Wrap is finally going up at Fontainebleau. pic.twitter.com/ZNSdOLIoNy
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) July 26, 2017
Rumors of a purchase swirling
The facade addresses the exterior of the building, but there is still no official progress on actually finishing construction. Icahn listed the property for $650 million. He thought he was close to a deal last year, but it never materialized.
During the latest earnings call, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said he heard there were rumors a sale was happening soon. He clarified the buyer was not MGM. Nonetheless, he was enthusiastic about the idea the project would finally be finished.
“An expanded and upgraded convention center would be very positive for the town and positive for northern (Strip) properties like Mirage and Circus Circus, of course,” Murren said.
Even if it does sell, the structure is far from complete. It would likely take a couple of years to finish it. A large part of the reason the building is so tall is that 23 stories of it are a parking garage. While that part would not need much work, the rest of the building isvery unfinished.
The northern end of the Strip is in flux lately. Resorts World recently delayed its opening day to 2020. Wynn is opening a new lagoon-centric resort behind its existing casinos called Paradise Park.
Meanwhile, other casinos are changing hands. Stratosphere sold to Golden Gaming, who is partnering with Best Western on the casino. After a couple of years of struggles, the SLS sold to The Meruelo Group and is possibly rebranding back to its previous name, Sahara.
Photo by Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com