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MGM parking plans for Route 91 site hark back to earlier use

Nearly two years after the Las Vegas massacre, we still don’t have a motive for why a heavily armed gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at the Route 91 Harvest festival.

But this week we learned the shooting site will be reverted to a prior use: a parking lot.

MGM Resorts International announced Tuesday that the south Strip property, across from the Luxor, will offer parking during games and concerts at Allegiant Stadium, future home of the Raiders.

That is the “near term” use, according to MGM, which plans to build a community and athletic center there and have a memorial for victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting.

The casino operator gave no timeline for when those would be built, saying it will share plans for the center “as they advance” and will “support the future community effort” for a memorial “when that process begins.”

As the landowner, MGM could have tried to sell the 15-acre property or develop a project like a hotel or a retail pavilion. But I wouldn’t have been surprised if buyers passed on a parcel with such a tragic history, and a commercial real estate project on the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history might have faced a backlash.

After I asked MGM whether it explored other development possibilities or looked to sell the site, spokeswoman Debra DeShong said the company has “no further comments” about the property beyond this week’s news release.

The site has changed hands over the years. Howard Hughes, the famed aviator, businessman and recluse, owned it in the 1970s, Clark County records indicate. Circus Circus Enterprises acquired it in 1993, and by the next year, a securities filing shows, the casino operator was using the site for Luxor and Excalibur employee parking.

MGM Mirage, as MGM was previously known, acquired the property during the mid-2000s bubble as part of its $7.9 billion acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group, as Circus Circus Enterprises was then known.

MGM sought county approvals in 2013 to turn the parking lot into a fairgrounds for concerts, festivals and other outdoor gatherings. The following year, the inaugural Route 91 Harvest country music festival was held there.

Perched from the 32nd floor of nearby Mandalay Bay, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock broke through two windows to shoot Route 91 concertgoers across Las Vegas Boulevard. He fired more than 1,000 rounds, including at fuel tanks connected to McCarran International Airport, and killed himself before police breached his room.

In a 187-page report released in August 2018, Las Vegas police said investigators were unable to find what Paddock’s motive might have been despite 2,000 investigated leads, 22,000 hours of video, 252,000 images and around 1,000 served legal processes.

In a three-page report released in January, the FBI said that after a nearly 12-month review, a panel concluded there was “no single or clear motivating factor” behind the attack.

It’s also unclear what will happen with Paddock’s corner suite at Mandalay Bay.

MGM owns the hotel, and DeShong said Friday the wing of the floor where the attack was carried out is still closed.

It will remain shuttered, she added, “for the foreseeable future.”

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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