In a 24-hour town where nonstop action on the Strip dictates the pace of business, most resort operators don’t spend much time trying to draw vacationers to unopened properties.
But that's exactly what the Genting Group plans to do.
Hoping to transform an eyesore into a marketing campaign, the Malaysian gaming giant has proposed building exhibits along Las Vegas Boulevard to promote its planned Resorts World Las Vegas, a 3,500-room, Chinese-themed resort with a 175,000-square-foot casino slated for the site of the failed Echelon.
If approved, Genting hopes to equip temporary construction fences around the property with a sound system to play music and announce promotions. The walls would carry Chinese-themed art and renderings of the proposed Resorts World.
Two preview centers, which will remain a part of the finished resort, would have Chinese façades and pagoda-style roofs. The northern center would consist of offices, conference rooms and a retail center. The southern center would house promotions offices, dressing rooms and an audio-visual control center.
Genting also hopes to feature dancers in dragon costumes to boost excitement among passing visitors.
“It will complement the Strip,” said Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who has worked to beautify construction sites along the Strip.
Clark County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the proposal today.
“It’s kind of a unique approach,” Giunchigliani said.
Genting’s latest proposal falls in line with the company's reputation for drama and flair. Resorts World Las Vegas, which is anticipated to cost between $2 billion and $7 billion, is expected to include a replica of the Great Wall of China, a live panda exhibit and other over-the-top amenities.
The Strip is dotted with reminders of other big ideas that went nowhere — unsightly shells of buildings and half-finished projects.
When financing dried-up and stalled construction of the Fontainebleau in 2008, Giunchigliani said she hoped the building would be imploded. In 2012, when Boyd Gaming announced that the Echelon’s opening would be pushed back to 2018, Giunchigliani demanded the company cover the construction site with building wraps. Work on the $4.8 million project had stopped in 2008.
“It was an eyesore,” Giunchigliani said. “The Strip is a scenic entryway and downtown corridor. It can’t look bad.”
At Giunchigliani’s request, Boyd crafted a $4 million beautification plan for the site. It planned to cover exposed steel frames with screening to hide the stalled construction and landscape the Strip side of the property.
But the project never got off the ground. Boyd sold the 87-acre site for $350 million to Genting, which plans to break ground on Resorts World in 2014 and open the first phase of the resort in 2016.
Genting's beautification plan is expected to cost more than $2 million.
Other Strip operators have taken similar pains to keep their construction sites presentable.
Most recently, MGM Resorts International hung fencing and draped an informational tarp dotted with advertisements in front of the Monte Carlo to block the demolition of the resort's European façade.
Down the street at the former Sahara, work crewshave been moving slowly and deliberately to take care of business as quietly as possible. Owners who are transforming the historic property to the SLS purposely avoided wrecking balls.
“The demolition has definitely been surgical,” said Jeff Ehret, president of Penta Building Group, which is overseeing construction of the SLS. “As we demolish, we’re quickly cleaning up the debris.”
A veteran of Las Vegas' construction scene for the past 17 years, Ehret said Genting’s effort is admirable.
“I’m really enthused about Genting’s approach,” he said. “They’re preserving a building that has good bones.”