MGM condos could open gaming floodgates

Dec 10, 2002 6:57 AM

   Plans for a six-tower, 40-story condo complex could trigger a gaming bonanza at the MGM Grand, sources tell GamingToday.

   The joint venture between MGM and Turnberry Associates calls for up to 3,468 luxury condo and hotel rooms to be built on the northeast corner of the resort property, where the old MGM Theme Park once sat. Suites will go for $350,000 to $2.6 million.

   Patterned after Turnberry’s successful high-rise towers across from the Las Vegas Hilton, the yet-to-be-named MGM complex comes with a twist: Condo owners could rent out their units as hotel rooms when unused.

   “This 19-acre parcel of land represents one of the premier locations for a condominium project in all of Las Vegas,’’ said John Redmond, president and CEO of MGM Grand Resorts. Residents will have access to the MGM’s Grand Spa and a host of other recreational amenities — all within easy walking distance.

   MGM could benefit, too, as new rules by state regulators appear to enable the resort to expand gaming under its existing license. Westward Ho recently received approval to install slots at a “satellite” gaming area on Industrial Road, completely detached from its casino.

   MGM and Turnberry officials would not comment on their plans. But state Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, has introduced legislation that would smooth the way for full-scale gaming at timeshare-style developments.

   This could be a major boon for Hilton and other companies looking to piggyback casino action onto their adjacent timeshare ventures.

   Schneider warns that there could be complications, however.

   “You might have to license every one of those condo owners [if MGM added gaming to its Turnberry towers],’’ he said. “Gaming control can demand licensure of whoever they want.’’

   Nevertheless, the major resort companies are moving evermore toward diversification in their residential offerings — while expanding their gambling venues.

   “Junior” suites at the MGM property will span a modest 585 square feet, with larger floor plans ranging up to 1,510 square feet.

   “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with one of the most renowned hotel companies in the world,’’ said Turnberry Principal Jeffrey Soffer. “We plan to draw on our expertise in the Las Vegas and condo-hotel markets to build one of the most desirable places to live and vacation.’’

   Initial sales are set to begin in the summer, with groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for the second quarter of 2004. As with its towers off the north Strip, Turnberry will build the MGM project in phases.