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Las Vegas casino implosion site still waiting for new project

When the New Frontier was imploded in 2007, the spectacle featured a fireworks show, cheering onlookers and a chanted countdown to the resort’s destruction.

Approaching 17 years later, the Strip property is still waiting for a new resort to take shape — and there’s no telling when that might happen.

Casino operator Wynn Resorts, which acquired the site several years ago, said in a securities filing in February that the property “may be used for future development.” It did not elaborate.

“We don’t have any update or changes on our plans for that parcel,” Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver recently said.

Wynn’s 38-acre land tract, between Fashion Show mall and Resorts World Las Vegas, isn’t the only empty plot in the famed casino corridor. And like countless other properties around Southern Nevada, it’s seen different owners and big project plans come and go.

Here’s a look at this quiet property’s far-from-boring history:

New Frontier

In 2007, New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin sold the hotel-casino for a reported $1.24 billion to Israeli investors, who imploded the 16-story tower that November.

The buyers set out to replace it with a multibillion-dollar Plaza-branded project as part of the development group owned New York’s Plaza hotel, according to news reports.

Their vision for Las Vegas was massive. Project plans called for 4,100 hotel rooms, 2,600 resort-condo units and more than 1 million square feet of convention, retail, restaurant and casino space combined, Clark County records show.

But Las Vegas’ once-bloated real estate bubble soon burst, the economy crashed and the project was never built.

Alon Las Vegas

In 2014, Australian billionaire James Packer and partners acquired the vacant property. They, too, had big plans for the site.

Their 1,100-room hotel-casino project, Alon Las Vegas, was slated to have two high-rise towers and include bars, restaurants, pools and a manmade lake, county records show.

But Packer reportedly had trouble raising project funds, and his former casino company Crown Resorts bailed on the development in 2016 and put the land up for sale.

Wynn Resorts

In late 2017, Wynn announced that it was acquiring the former Alon site and some adjacent property for $336 million. The spread included 16 acres leased to Wynn by longtime owners the Elardi family.

Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn told analysts in January 2018 that he wanted to move quickly on a project there.

Days later, The Wall Street Journal reported that the casino boss had a decadeslong pattern of sexual misconduct.

Wynn, who called the allegations “preposterous,” soon resigned as chairman and CEO of his namesake company, citing “an avalanche of negative publicity.”

While it’s still unclear what the company will do with the land, securities filings show the acquisition came with more than just a giant spread of real estate on Las Vegas Boulevard.

As part of the deal, the company has said, it acquired approximately 24 acre-feet of water rights — the equivalent of more than 7.8 million gallons of water.

Not a bad thing to have in a city built in the desert.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342.

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