Long-stalled and newly named Fontainebleau Las Vegas targets fourth quarter 2023 opening

November 9, 2021 11:13 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
November 9, 2021 11:13 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

The new owners of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas on the north end of the Strip announced Tuesday during a gold-shovel ceremony that they’ve started construction and will open the 67-story casino resort during the fourth quarter of 2023.

Florida-based Fontainebleau Development, which designs, builds, owns, and operates hospitality, commercial, retail, and luxury properties, acquired the stalled development at 2777 Las Vegas Blvd. S. in February, along with partner Dallas-based Koch Real Estate Investments.

Fontainebleau Development Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Soffer was the original developer of the high-rise hotel-casino project that broke ground in 2007. The real estate crash and subsequent Great Recession forced the project into bankruptcy in 2009 before being acquired by billionaire Carl Ichan in 2010. Ichan sold it in 2017 to New York developer Steve Witkoff, who planned to call it Drew Las Vegas after his late son.

“We’re grateful to have the opportunity to finish what we started and finally introduce the iconic Fontainebleau brand into one of the world’s largest hospitality destinations,” Soffer said. “We’ve been extremely selective when it comes to expanding our brand. Las Vegas has always been our number-one choice. The building is in mint condition and we have already commenced construction.”

The project is 75 percent complete and, when it opens Fontainebleau Development will be the sole hotel operator. Marriott International cut ties with the project last month.

The property spans 25 acres and about nine million square feet on the north end of the Strip, adjacent to the new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. It will feature more than 3,700 hotel rooms, more than 550,000 square feet of convention space, and a collection of restaurants and shops, pool experiences, nightlife options, and spa and wellness offerings.

“The Las Vegas tourism industry has shown incredible resilience throughout the last two years and we believe our target opening date allows us to perfect our vision, while positioning Fontainebleau Las Vegas for success in a new era of growth and visitation,” said Fontainebleau Development President Brett Mufson.

“Our partnership was forged from our combined belief in Las Vegas, not just as a destination, but as a global brand where people from all over the world come together to enjoy world-class venues, entertainment, and nightlife,” said Jake Francis, president of Koch Real Estate Investments.

The gold-shovel ceremony at the site included the developers and local business and political leaders. About 150 people attended.

Mufson thanked the Las Vegas community for its support of the long-running project, telling the crowd how it welcomed “us with open arms back to the marketplace and we really appreciate it.”

Soffer called his return a “crazy story,” after conceiving the project in the mid-2000s.

“But I’m back,” Soffer said. “It takes so many people to make a job like this go forward. It’s not one person; it’s a team. It’s a great building, it was always a great building, but this has come full circle back to us and we’re honored and excited about it as a company.”

Fontainebleau Development has retained Las Vegas builder Richardson Construction to complete the property and the company will announce additional design and development partners in the coming months.

Construction will add about 3,200 jobs to the Las Vegas economy and the resort will employ about 6,000 permanent workers upon completion.

“To have it rebirthed is absolutely incredible,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak told the crowd as he celebrated the incoming jobs and the project’s economic impact. “Today is a testament that no challenge is too difficult to overcome.”

In citing Fontainebleau’s location near the Convention Center, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill said that it’s exciting for the developers and the city. “You can see their eyes light up and they see the opportunity that this property brings to the Convention Center and Las Vegas,” Hill said.