Caesars Entertainment Corp. showed off its $550 million vision of urban renewal Tuesday.
The casino operator is still seven months from finishing The Linq, which was designed as an eclectic urban streetscape suggested by New York City’s trendy Meatpacking District.
The project transforms an eastside Strip area between The Quad and Flamingo that until last year housed a dilapidated parking garage, an underused alleyway and a tiny casino favored by the beer pong crowd.
When it fully opens in February, The Linq’s open-air promenade will encompass 300,000 square feet of stylish retail offerings, trendy restaurants and hip entertainment venues, all anchored on its east end by a 550-foot-tall observation wheel.
“I think people will be surprised at the excitement we’re creating,” Linq General Manager Jon Gray said while touring the active construction site with a crowd of media.
“It’s a contemporary place and it feels right for this city,” Gray said.
The Linq space isn’t large — roughly 1,250 feet separate the Strip from the observation wheel, named the High Roller.
However, the streetscape is patterned after outdoor retail attractions such as Southern California’s The Grove and 3rd Street Promenade.
The Linq aims to draw in some of the 20 million or more pedestrians who stroll past the Flamingo each year. Designers said Tuesday that it will have three plazas. The plaza that connects new entrances to the Flamingo and The Quad (formerly the Imperial Palace) from The Linq is expected to open in December.
“We want to be ready to service the New Year’s Eve crowds,” Gray said.
Several of the shops and restaurants also will open in December.
The 25,000-square-foot central plaza will have a fountain area that can host entertainment acts, while the restaurants will have four patios and four balconies.
“This will be a vibrant space,” Gray said.
Outdoor eating will be encouraged at The Linq. The Margaritaville Restaurant at the Flamingo will expand with a patio.
The Brooklyn Bowl, which is taking up the largest retail space at 78,000 square feet, will have a patio. The Yard House Restaurant, which will encompass 22,000 square feet near the High Roller, also is planning outdoor dining.
The Linq’s Yard House will be the largest in the restaurant company’s chain.
Linq developers revealed 13 of the initial tenants last year. Gray said 95 percent of The Linq has been leased and the project will begin releasing names of the other tenants in the next two weeks.
A branch of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will occupy 25,000 square feet at the front of The Linq along the Strip next to The Quad. The space will have a restaurant and exhibits.
Developers said the unique design of the building, dubbed the Vortex, allows it to stand out along the Strip. Gray said plans are being formulated for its 25,000-square-foot open-air deck overlooking the Strip.
“We just didn’t want to build another billboard,” said Branislav Hetzel, whose design firm is working on The Quad and Vortex. “We wanted the building to make a statement.”
Meanwhile, fans of O’Shea’s can rejoice. The small but popular casino, which was demolished to make way for The Linq, has been included in a space attached to The Quad. O’Shea’s will be smaller — more like an Irish pub — but will have gaming and a space for beer pong.
The High Roller will be the final component for The Linq.
The observation wheel will have 28 glass-enclosed cabins that can each accommodate 40 riders. The cabins will take 30 minutes to complete a revolution.
Linq Executive Project Director David Codiga, who brings extensive theme park experience to the development, said High Roller passengers will be given reserved times, allowing them to experience other aspects of the development rather than waiting in line.
Linq officials said a passenger station for the Las Vegas Monorail will be added to the project near The Quad. Also, developers are creating a parking lot behind the development that can hold 3,500 to 4,000 vehicles. The parking area can also be used for special events.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.