Fremont lookin' Grand with new Downtown Grand

Nov 5, 2013 3:00 AM

The official opening of the Downtown Grand Las Vegas isn’t until Tuesday, Nov. 12, but the casino and restaurants are active and the sports book is taking bets, plus you can stay there midweek for $59.

And the best is definitely yet to come.

This is one impressive site, not only from within but in a one-way area looking down to the Fremont Street Experience with a lot of new energy – Third Street between Ogden and Stewart.

“The biggest thing we have to reverse is the lingering stigma that anything east of Fremont is unsafe,” said one of the ticket writers in the William Hill-run sports book. “I don’t feel uncomfortable here and it’s very well policed.”

I concur, although my first visit to Downtown Grand was at 11 a.m., which does make a difference. Still, just across the street is Hogs and Heifer’s, the newly built Commissary, which will be a rockin’ upscale restaurant/food court area open indoors and outdoors to the wee small hours, plus both the Mob Bar and Mob Museum right there in short walking distance.

“I think this is going to be a great area to work,” said a lone security guard on watch at Stewart Ave., the best way to approach the first property to open in downtown Las Vegas in more than 20 years.

Downtown Grand will bring nearly 600 slot machines, 28 table games, 634 hotel rooms and 800 permanent jobs to a resurgent downtown.

“We are getting some people coming in by word of mouth,” said one of the hotel agents who left her job at Paiute Golf Club to be part of the staff. “I think we are in a great spot and our hotel rooms are such a bargain at these prices.”

The sports book has a deli a few feet from the seating area and there’s Hebrew National hot dogs are on the menu – a true sign of genius.

It’s a three-way partnership with Fifth Street Gaming (the operator of the gaming space), DTG Las Vegas Manager (in charge of hotel and restaurant operations) and CIM Group  (owners of the property).

For those not familiar with the area, the Downtown Grand is on the grounds of the old Lady Luck, a place rich in tradition and the target of some criticism in the past from former Mayor Oscar Goodman, who is one of this city’s staunchest supporters.

“For the past several years I have seen a rotting corpse,” said Goodman of the property’s condition, back in 2008. “The Lady Luck structure has been a blight.”

One year later Goodman went a step further in a council meeting saying, “The Lady Luck is a disaster. The skeletal structure is a carcass.”

Well this carcass has risen to what could become the showplace center for a revived downtown area that is doing its best to change that “unsafe” reputation.

The Downtown Grand will still be a work in progress even after the official opening – the entire project is expected to be completed in late 2014.

As it is, the boutique hotel has 25,000 square feet of casino space, 17 bars and restaurants, a 35,000 square foot urban, rooftop pool retreat called PICNIC and a walk-up window from outside where you can place sports bets like you would order a burger at a drive-in.

Not to mention seven Buffalo slot machines are in a row standing guard at the entrance to the sports book. All the place needs is a few more bodies, and they will come once the official opening takes place.

As for parking, which can be a real bear downtown, the best way to approach is from Stewart Ave., heading toward Las Vegas Blvd. The valet parking area on the right is easily defined, attractive and definitely the best way to go.

Hey, even Monti Rock likes it. Now that’s an endorsement.

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

 GamingToday on Facebook      and         GamingToday on Twitter