The unfinished Fontainebleau has life once again. Fontainebleau Development targets the fourth quarter of 2023 to open the stalled casino resort on the north end of the Vegas Strip near Sahara and Circus Circus.
However, this isn’t the first go-around for Fontainebleau. The big blue building first broke ground in 2007. Construction stopped in 2009 when the original developers ran out of money.
Fontainebleau has had multiple owners that did very little to move the project forward. Hopefully, this time will be different.
Fontainebleau Development plans 2023 opening
Earlier this year, Koch Real Estate Investments purchased the unfinished casino resort known initially as Fontainebleau Las Vegas.
The property sits on 25 acres of land. Fontainebleau is currently 75% complete, even though construction has been on hold for more than a decade. Fontainebleau was about 90% completed when construction initially stopped, but it’s been 12 years since the project stopped.
While the structure may be sound, the new developers will have to replace everything from the furniture to the Plaza and house items for auction.
Koch owns the land, while Fontainebleau Development will oversee the property. It seems to be a return to the original plans for the property. The company will announce additional design and development partners in the coming months.
If the project completes around this time, it will be a return to its Fontainebleau vision.
Fontainebleau Development feels this is the right time to finish the project that has stalled for years. In a statement to the media, Fontainebleau Development President Brett Mufson said:
“The Las Vegas tourism industry has shown incredible resiliency throughout the last two years, and we believe our target opening date allows us to perfect our vision while positioning Fontainebleau Las Vegas for success in a new era of growth and visitation”
There’s still a lot of information to come on the rebirth of Fontainebleau. One thing that will change is that this will be a casino and hotel only. Plans to sell some condo units have been put aside (more on that shortly).
The Drew years
Koch purchased Fontainebleau from Witkoff, another real estate company that planned to finish the property in 2018. Later, it was renamed The Drew and then Drew Las Vegas.
Witkoff hired a design and architecture firm to get the ball rolling. The company even hired gaming industry veteran Bobby Baldwin as the Chief Executive Officer of Drew Las Vegas. Afterward, Marriott was brought on board to operate the hotel at The Drew.
Unfortunately, the plans never really got off the ground, and The Drew stalled. Marriott is no longer a part of the development of the property. Koch purchased the land, and Fontainebleau is now in charge of finishing the project.
Carl Icahn makes a smart investment
Witkoff paid billionaire investor Carl Icahn $600 million for Fontainebleau in 2017. In 2010, Icahn Enterprises acquired Fontainebleau for $148 million.
Icahn didn’t seem to have a plan to finish the construction of Fontainebleau. He made at least $457 million from this distressed real estate asset.
Therefore, not a lousy return on investment for seven years of doing minimal work.
Original Fontainebleau plans
Fontainebleau initially planned to build where El Rancho and Algiers casinos once stood.
The luxury casino, resort, and condominium project is still on a relatively small 25-acre plot of land. For comparison, operations of The Mirage are on the market, and the property occupies about 100 acres.
- A 100,000-sq.-ft. casino
- Lapis, a 60,000-sq.-ft. spa
- A 3,200-seat performing arts theater
- 1,018 condo-hotel units
- 300,000 sq.-ft. of retail space
- 390,000 sq.-ft .of indoor and outdoor conference space
- State of the art nightclubs
- 27 restaurants and lounges
Details on what the new Fontainebleau will offer when it opens in 2023 will come to light over the next couple of years. Besides hotel amenities, the new operators will have to reveal gaming companies to run the casino and sportsbook.
If nothing else, this should remain a luxury property similar to what the company offers its guests in Miami Beach.