The never-ending construction of the nearly completed Fontainebleau casino-hotel high-rise is being covered up to improve the view on the Las Vegas Strip.
A relatively routine request for a time extension for an off-site improvement bond by the property’s owner, Icahn NV Gaming Acquisition LLC, was turned into an opportunity by a Clark County commissioner propelling the owner to cover up, at least in part, the 63-story eye sore that has been visible for several years. Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said, “I’m trying to at least beautify,” and that the temporary fixes focus “is really that gaping hole that faces Las Vegas Boulevard,” according to a CDC Gaming Report.
The 3,900-room property’s construction ceased in 2009, and the following year the $2.9 billion development was purchased out of bankruptcy by billionaire investor Carl Icahn for $150 million. The site is inspected monthly by the county and according to Giunchigliani, the inside is beautiful, it’s in good shape and has no structural issues. However, the exterior is in need of some cosmetic enhancement and the deal for that fix was a year-long one.
In addition to the Fontainebleau, the Venetian agreed to cover up an unfinished tower looming over the Strip, and the Echelon project which was sold to the Genting Group by Boyd Gaming before that site needed to be covered also agreed.
Had the extension been voted down by the commissioners, access to bond money already set aside would have been lost and off-site improvements could have been started by the county to the public areas surrounding the site. The extension was approved on Wednesday by county commissioners and as part of the agreement the company will submit plans within 90 days to cover the structure’s first three floors facing the Strip and six months to complete construction.
The on again off again construction has been going on since 2008, and off-site improvement bonds have been sought and received by the company five times since then. However, the company’s latest request in 2014 was denied by the county’s public works department because it was believed that “the developer has had sufficient time to complete the project,” according to Wednesday’s county meeting staff report. The company said that the economic timing wasn’t right to complete the casino-hotel, which Giunchigliani agreed with considering the Alon Las Vegas Casino Resort and Resorts World mega-project are expected to open by 2018.