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Station Casinos looks — again — to develop long-held property

When Station Casinos was buying a big tract of land in southwest Las Vegas, its then-finance chief noted the company had acquired various plots around the valley that would be developed “over a long period of time.”

He wasn’t kidding.

More than 20 years later, Station’s bosses now say they’re looking to break ground on the still-empty southwest parcel, after prior efforts to build a resort there never materialized.

Station executives said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday that the company plans to develop a casino on its 71-acre desert spread along Durango Drive just south of the 215 Beltway — a huge property near Ikea with a weathered, wooden sign touting Station’s plans for a hotel-casino there.

The locals-focused operator aims to break ground early next year, said billionaire Frank Fertitta III, chairman and CEO of parent company Red Rock Resorts.

The land is in one of the fastest-growing areas of the valley, he indicated.

“Go do demographics around every local casino site in Las Vegas, and you’ll see that Durango is an absolute no-brainer,” Fertitta said.

Of course, as with any real estate idea, there’s no guarantee the project will get built, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak devastated Southern Nevada’s tourism industry — the backbone of the economy — and sparked huge job losses. Las Vegas has been getting a surge of visitors lately as vaccines roll out, and the unemployment rate has come down a lot, though today, roughly 11 months after Nevada casinos were allowed to reopen from state-ordered lockdown, Station hasn’t reopened all of its properties yet.

Still, real estate pros have figured the Durango site would be the first among its vacant parcels to get developed.

It has freeway visibility and access, can draw customers from the area’s growing population, and isn’t too close to Station’s other resorts.

Station — whose executives discussed the Durango plans the same day the company announced it was selling the Palms for $650 million — declined further comment for this column.

The company acquired the Durango property in 2000, records indicate. A site plan from 2008 showed two hotel towers, a casino, a movie theater and several retail buildings.

That summer, Station unveiled plans to break ground on the Durango project in 2009 and open in 2011, the Review-Journal reported at the time. But the economy, which was already tumbling, soon crashed.

Las Vegas’ once-roaring real estate market was all but wiped out, and nothing was built at the Durango site.

Station owns big plots of vacant land around the valley, including in master-planned communities such as Summerlin, Inspirada and Skye Canyon. A few of its parcels are somewhat isolated on the valley’s outer rings, whereas the Durango property sits off the Beltway, not far from the Strip, McCarran International Airport and more.

A project there would be seen by throngs of commuters every day. Assuming, of course, that it gets built.

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

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