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Frontier waits for ship to come in

Feb 19, 2002 7:46 AM

The New Frontier is waiting on new money to launch its San Francisco-themed megaresort.

Owner Phil Ruffin says he remains committed to the makeover and expansion of his Strip property. But tight credit and a sluggish market have kept those plans at bay.

“We’re moving forward as soon as the market improves,’’ said general manager Najam Khan. He noted that the hotel enjoyed a strong holiday weekend, but, like most resorts, midweek occupancy has been soft.

Ruffin, who announced plans to implode the 986-room property two years ago, says he’s standing in line behind Steve Wynn, who is queued up to finance the Le Reve project at the old Desert Inn. Ruffin estimates that the 2,500-room San Francisco-style venture will cost $1 billion. Le Reve’s pricetag is about $1.6 billion.

Analysts say time is on Ruffin’s side. Adjacent to the expanding Fashion Show Mall (which is adding a Nordstrom) and across from Wynn’s project, the New Frontier sits smack in the midst of the Strip’s new high-rent district.

“That’s where the action is going to be,’’ said one insider.