Vacation Village could be slated for wrecking ball

Jan 15, 2002 6:57 AM

Is it R.I.P. for Vacation Village? GamingToday has learned that the south Strip hotel-casino, which abruptly closed last week, may be shut down for good.

Sources say that new owner Shawn Scott is in negotiations with the county on a land swap involving the 25-acre property. If the two parties come to terms, the Vacation Village site would be transferred to McCarran International Airport, which lies just across Las Vegas Boulevard, and the aging resort would be torn down.

“There are a lot of headaches with the site,’’ said one insider, noting that runway restrictions prohibit the construction of any structure taller than three floors.

Instead of trying to wedge another gaming venture onto the parcel, analysts say Scott is trying to flip the land in exchange for county-owned property farther south on the Strip or along the I-215 beltway.

Neither Scott nor the county would confirm the speculation. But development sources say they would be surprised if Scott intended to operate a casino at all. If so, Las Vegas Boulevard may have just lost a gaming venue.

“There are a number of significant (county-owned) properties along the beltway and on Las Vegas Boulevard that might be a better investment. They might be casinos, they might not,’’ the insider said.

Scott does not hold a gaming license, and following irregularities that cropped up at one of his former properties in North Las Vegas, the prospects for licensure are far from certain.

“It would surprise me if he was a (casino) operator,’’ said Kevin Higgins of CB Richard Ellis’ Gaming Group.

Putting up $17.8 million, Scott beat out other Vacation Village bidders at auction last month. “Most of his competitors were looking to do the same thing ”” do an exchange with the county,’’ Higgins said.

Meanwhile, Scott’s Capital One LLC is reportedly in talks with two Las Vegas casino operators about purchasing the site bounded by I-15, I-215 and Las Vegas Boulevard. But no one is naming names, and the current gaming market may be less than hospitable.

The gaming win for Strip casinos plummeted 12 percent in November, the third straight monthly decline. By contrast, statewide revenues were down a more modest 7.9 percent, and other parts of the county, notably Mesquite and Laughlin, actually posted gains.