Work crews are in action at the Alon Las Vegas site, as the north Strip hotel-casino slowly begins taking shape and a rival newcomer shows little progress next door.
Construction of Alon hasn’t started, but laborers this week were moving earth at the 34.6-acre property just north of Fashion Show mall, where the New Frontier once stood. They’ve also removed landscaping along Las Vegas Boulevard.
Workers are surveying and cleaning the site, and media will be invited to speak with Alon CEO Andrew Pascal and other officials “early next year when we share details of the project,” Alon vice president of entertainment Jennifer Dunne said.
“Until then, we are not granting interviews,” she said in an email. “Thank you for your interest and for your patience!”
Efforts to reach Pascal this week through his online gaming company Playstudios also were unsuccessful.
Australian casino mogul James Packer's Crown Resorts and Pascal, a former Wynn Resorts executive, are developing the 3.4 million-square-foot, 1,100-room resort. Clark County commissioners last month approved use permits, design reviews and other project plans.
Alon is slated to feature a 26-story tower and a 17-story VIP tower; a man-made lake; about 27,800 square feet of casino space; 84,800 square feet for conventions; bars, restaurants and retail; and the “Black Box Theater,” according to county documents and filings by the developers.
At a hearing Oct. 7, Las Vegas lawyer Rory Reid, representing the developers, told county commissioners that Pascal was “the visionary that created this thing that’s in front of you.”
Packer, Pascal and investment giant Oaktree Capital Management took charge of the site last year. They acquired 18.4 acres through foreclosure — county records indicate they paid $226 million at auction — and rented the remaining 16.2 acres from longtime owners the Elardi family.
The group is currently paying $3.75 million a year to rent the Elardis’ portion. The lease, which began Aug. 1, 1998, with the Frontier’s then-owner Phil Ruffin, expires on July 31, 2097. Under the original terms, the rental price will climb in coming decades, filings with the county show.
Ruffin sold the 16-story casino in 2007 for $1.24 billion to Israeli investors, who imploded it later that year. They planned to replace the old haunt with the Plaza Las Vegas, a luxury casino-resort featuring 4,100 hotel rooms and 2,600 condo units, but after the economy tanked, the project went nowhere.
When Packer, Pascal and Oaktree announced their acquisition of the property, in August 2014, the developers said they expected to start building a resort in late 2015 and to finish in 2018. They did not disclose other details, including the property’s name or amenities.
An outline of Alon emerged this year after the investors filed project renderings and other plans with the county that disclosed, among other things, the resort’s name and room-count.
Meanwhile, just north of Alon, Malaysian casino powerhouse Genting Group plans to turn the once-mothballed, partially built Echelon project into Resorts World Las Vegas. Genting has said it expects to open the $4 billion casino-resort in mid-2018.
But the company, which bought the site in 2013 for $350 million from Boyd Gaming Corp., appears to have made little progress transforming the 87-acre property into its Chinese-themed destination.
When Genting acquired the site, construction was expected to start in 2014. The company held a ceremonial groundbreaking this past May.
Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison called Resorts World a “magnificent addition” to Nevada’s tourism industry and said it would be a “jewel in the desert.”
“This is a day that we’ve been waiting for for a very long time,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said at the event, which featured a traditional Chinese lion dance performance.
Besides a colorful Resorts World wall bordering the site, the property does not appear to have changed much, or at least with the structures that Boyd built. On two recent weekday visits, there did not appear to be any construction activity going on, either.
A Genting representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The resort’s website does not list any phone numbers, and emails to its media relations, general inquiries and vendor relations addresses bounced back as undeliverable. Genting’s investor relations office did not respond to a request for comment.