Steve unveils plans for another Wynn’er!

Aug 21, 2001 7:48 AM

After months of dodging questions about his Desert Inn property, Steve Wynn has unveiled plans for his new mega resort on the Strip.

A 45-story tower, 15 restaurants and a four-acre lake are on tap for the Desert Inn property at Sands Avenue and the Strip.

Wynn’s plans will be unveiled at the County Planning Commission on Thursday.

Among the highlights:

”¡Â  A 2,455-room hotel tower.

”¡Â  A 120,000-sq.-foot casino.

”¡Â  A 1,500-seat and 2,000-seat showroom.

”¡ 132,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.

”¡Â  A three-acre swim area.

”¡ 70,000 square feet of retail.

Though Wynn purchased the 220-acre D.I. resort and golf course, only a fraction of the property is included in the initial development. Construction of the lake and hotel-casino is slated to start at the northeast corner of Sands Avenue and the Strip ”” leaving the Desert Inn intact for the time being.

As reported in GamingToday last month, workers have been refurbishing the D.I. tower and Wynn’s latest plans include converting the first floor of the resort’s St. Andrews Tower into an 8,000-square-foot art gallery. Floors two through eight of the St. Andrews and Palm towers will be converted into office space, which could be leased.

The golf course and the Villas timeshare units will continue to be used at least on a temporary basis.

Neither Wynn nor spokesman Bill Vassiliadis was available to comment on the plans submitted to the county. No information about the project’s price tag has been released. Nor has the construction timetable, the general contractor or the resort’s restaurateurs.

The initial blueprints portray a full-service resort similar to Wynn’s Bellagio or Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip; all are heavily accented with amenities ranging from formal dining to upscale boutiques. Wedding chapels are also included in the unnamed project that closely mirrors the sketchy plans floated earlier by Wynn. That version called for 52 floors and 2,300 suites.

The 120,000 square feet of gaming space is comparable to the Venetian and Luxor, but smaller than the 171,500 square feet at the MGM Grand.

As for the 715-room D.I. itself, the property could still be up for sale. Wynn’s office and art gallery plans are called “transitional’’ by county officials. “There’s nothing in the plans that says the office space couldn’t be leased out,’’ said one planner.

Wynn, who purchased the Desert Inn and its golf course for $270 million, originally said he would announce plans for remaking the property this spring. His attempts to secure a $260 million buy-in from Tokyo-based Aruze Corp. were complicated when the pachinko machine maker ran afoul of the law in Japan. Aruze was accused of concealing $35 million in income and was hit with a $15 million fine.

Subsequent speculation about Wynn hooking up with Harrod’s owner Mohammed Al Fayed cooled off this summer. The London-based magnate who has an Internet gaming site is said to be pursuing casino ventures worldwide. But, recently, he has been looking elsewhere in town.

Industry analysts say that financing remains an uphill climb for casino developers ””even those as accomplished as Wynn. “Money is tight right now, and it will stay that way until Las Vegas starts to show stronger numbers,’’ said one.