Saturday, August 22, 2015

Harmon and Cosmopolitan 2009 Construction Photos

I was going through some old Las Vegas photos and came across these from 2009 which I think might be interesting to the Las Vegas fanatics out there.

The first photo shows the ill-fated Harmon Hotel being constructed. The tower was deemed unsafe because of construction flaws and ultimately had to be dismantled piece by piece.

The second photo shows Cosmopolitan under construction, along with a pre-remodeled Bill's Gamblin' Hall which would later become The Cromwell.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Update on Stalled Construction Projects

Four years ago I wrote a blog post about stalled and abandoned Las Vegas construction projects. I thought it would be fun to go back and see what has happened to those projects:

- Fontainebleau - sold to Carl Icahn and is essentially abandoned.

- Echelon - sold to Genting Group and will be built into Resorts World.

- St. Regis tower at Palazzo - Still unfinished. A building wrap was installed to hide the construction. Las Vegas Sands has talked about doing something with it, but that hasn't happened yet.

- Harmon Hotel at CityCenter - The tower was deconstructed. The Crystals mall will likely expand into that space.

- The Shops at Summerlin - Developed by the Howard Hughes Corporation it was re-branded as Downtown Summerlin and is open with a multitude of retail and dining establishments.

- Wyndham Desert Blue timeshare across from Rio - Work resumed in 2013 and the project was finished. It's a nice looking building.

- ManhattanWest - The project was purchased for pennies on the dollar and construction resumed in 2013. It was renamed The Gramercy and is now open with upscale residential, retail, and office space.

- Vantage Lofts - opened in spring 2014 as Vantage Luxury Flats and Loft Living.

- Mercer - The project was purchased by a developer who plans to open it in the first quarter of 2017. They kept the name Mercer.

I couldn't find any updates on Parkline Lofts, Spanish View Towers, or Uptown. I'm assuming they're still stalled and/or abandoned.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Outsiders' Guide to Las Vegas - Book Review

As a longtime fan of Five Hundy By Midnight the Original Las Vegas Podcast I thoroughly enjoyed host Tim Dressen's new book The Outsiders' Guide to Las Vegas.

The book follows the premise that obsessive outsiders often know more about Las Vegas than well intentioned locals. After losing count of how many cab drivers have told me Cosmopolitan is part of CityCenter, I couldn't agree more.

The Outsiders' Guide has a very similar tone and style as the podcast - unfiltered opinions wrapped in humorous commentary. This is a complete guide covering every aspect of a Las Vegas vacation from the planning stages all the way to returning to work after your trip.



Tim goes through every Strip, near Strip, and Downtown casino giving his take on what's good (Jackpot) and what's not (Tilt) at each property. While reading through each hotel rundown I couldn't help but take notes on what restaurants, shows, and attractions that I want to check out next time.

One interesting section of the book is the "Time as Currency" concept. When you're on vacation time is more important than money in some cases. Taking the shuttle from Harrah's to Rio is free - but it will cost you an hour of time, which is much more valuable than the $10 you would have spent on a cab ride.

I sincerely recommend The Outsiders' Guide to Las Vegas to experienced and novice travelers alike. Be careful sharing this book with uptight coworkers or family members though, it's definitely rated R.

I'll be looking forward to reading whatever Tim Dressen writes about next, but I do have a suggestion for his next book: The Las Vegas Ghost - A Novel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

MGM-AEG Arena Video

I've posted a fair amount on this blog about the new MGM-AEG Arena including a post showing a few interior and exterior construction photos.

I somehow had never come across this video from AEG which shows many computer animation renderings of different aspects of the arena. Not surprisingly - it looks like this arena will have a more upscale feel than arenas in other cities that I've experienced.

Las Vegas Arena from AEG Multimedia on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NFR and PBR Sign Las Vegas Deals

A few weeks ago the National Finals Rodeo announced a deal that will keep them in Las Vegas until at least 2024. The rodeo will remain at the Thomas and Mack Center. Thomas and Mack is undergoing a $72 million modernization project that will improve almost every aspect of the arena, including an addition that will overlook the Las Vegas Strip.

The PBR (Professional Bull Riders) have also signed a multi-year agreement to stay in Las Vegas. The PBR finals will be held at Thomas and Mack one last time in 2015 before moving over to the new MGM-AEG Arena in 2016.

I don't know much about rodeo or bull riding, but I do know that NFR and PBR are pretty big events so this is definitely good news for Las Vegas. They usually bring in tourists during slower times of the year so I expect Las Vegas will do what it takes to keep these events for as long as possible.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bellagio Kabuki Spectacle Videos

The Bellagio fountains Kabuki performance I wrote about last month took place this past weekend. Kabuki star Ichikawa Somegoro performed a show called "Fight with a Carp" on a specially designed stage in front of the fountains.

The shows were very popular. A Japan Times article recapping the event estimated attendance of 10,000 per performance. That number seems a little high, but it looks like they did shut down the right lane of Las Vegas Boulevard to allow for more standing room.

The visual effects of the carp, both on the display in the center and projected on the fountains looked pretty cool. Other than that I'm not exactly sure what was going on. I can't decide if I would want to see something like this if it were a permanent show in Las Vegas. It probably wouldn't be super high on my list.

The first video from vegas.com gives a five minute summary of the performance:



The second video is a standard shot of the show from front and center by Shochiku, the company that was involved with the performance:



The third video is a bird's eye view by Shochiku:



The last video was shot by a drone. The drone takes off from near the Paris balloon and hovers over Las Vegas Boulevard. After getting some footage of the Kabuki spectacle the drone does a nice 360 degree turn to show off most of the Strip:



An interesting side note about the drone video - the photographer was questioned by hotel security shortly after shooting the video. After arguing with them for about five minutes he just decided he was going to leave and they didn't stop him.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Downtown Grand Cuts Table Game Hours

Downtown Grand is a nice remodeled property, but ever since it opened in late 2013 it seems like foot traffic has been low. This has caused management to make several changes including cutting back on restaurant offerings.

Just recently they did something I've never heard of in a major casino - scheduled hours for table games. The already low number of table games (down to 9 last I heard) will only be open from 2:00 pm to 2:00 am on weekdays, and noon to 2:00 am on weekends.

I understand the urge to close table games at times when nobody's playing, but this looks really bad. If a table games player visits the property in the morning hours only to see a pit of closed games how likely are they to return? I wonder if there's any flexibility to this policy. If a 20 person bachelor party walks in at 1:55 am wanting to throw around some cash on the craps and blackjack tables will they be turned away?

Downtown Grand is also rumored to be up for sale. This isn't surprising as Downtown Grand along with SLS have both apparently struggled since re-opening. I just wonder how much someone would be willing to pay for this property. As nice as it is the location isn't great, and it has already failed once under the Lady Luck banner.