Move over Wynn!

May 3, 2005 5:45 AM

A super-deluxe, 4,000-room Fontainebleau resort planned on a site opposite Circus Circus at the north end of the Strip may supercede the new Wynn Las Vegas property as a developmental catalyst in the area.

Former Mandalay Resort Group President Glenn Schaeffer is leading the development of this project, apparently as part of a joint venture with Turnberry Associates, which owns the acreage on which the Fontainebleau will be built.

There have been no formal announcements and there may not be for another couple of weeks, when Hilton Hotels officially exits the Miami Beach tourism landmark. But a half-dozen sources familiar with the project confirmed various elements of the plan for GamingToday, the first Las Vegas paper to report the project a week ago.

Key players on the Schaeffer team are already on duty at the south Florida Fontainebleau, although Schaeffer is reportedly expected to work mostly from Las Vegas as they fashion the Fontainebleau name into a national brand.

Top bosses at aging, cash-strapped resorts such as the Sahara and Riviera should be delighted by this coming infusion of energy and cash so close to their front doors.

Fontainebleau development will probably also inspire MGM Mirage bosses to upgrade their Circus property sooner than expected.

Stay tuned.

MGM reveals plans

The shape of the future is beginning to emerge now that MGM Mirage has completed its purchase of the Mandalay Resort Group.

Generally, expect more development.

The Monte Carlo will get needed attention. The project known as CityCenter now has more land available for future expansion. Much of this will come as part of an added emphasis on non-casino development.

The fact is, more people are willing to spend more than ever, says MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni.

"Our dream, which is CityCenter, will have significant amounts of non-casino features," Lanni said. "Everything along the 1,130 feet or so of frontage between Harmon and the Monte Carlo”¦ you’re going to have two or three boutique hotels, you’ll have the entrance to 500,000 square feet of retail, you’ll have non-gaming residential construction and then at the back of the property abutting Frank Sinatra you will have the big hotel casino."

Few details and actual hotel operators have been identified, but one significant announcement revealed the hiring of award-winning Cesar Pelli to design CityCenter’s principal component, the 4,000-room hotel and casino.

Lanni clearly anticipates Pelli creating the same sort of icon that Pelli did in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — the breathtaking tapering twin spires of the Petronas Towers that are connected hundreds of feet above the ground by a sky bridge.

CityCenter will open in November 2009. Beyond this, there is a second phase that can incorporate more land along Frank Sinatra Boulevard. There are also 10 acres behind New York-New York and a (much discussed) two more acres between Monte Carlo and NY-NY.