The legendary Stardust may be gone, but those who conceived the shiny-new Resorts World have ensured it won’t be forgotten when the property debuts Thursday.
Vestiges of the historic property are being blended into the new one in several ways, such as the name of the 66th-floor lounge Starlight On 66, plus a painting and a sculpture elsewhere in the resort that pay homage to the icon.
But the Stardust will live on literally in the case of about 100 trees that have been preserved from the old property to be used in the new. (A total of more than 7,000 trees will adorn the Resorts World property.)
The fact that the Stardust trees survived seems quite an accomplishment because the site, which Boyd Gaming had planned to transform into the luxurious Echelon Place, sat dormant from 2008 until new owners the Genting Group began construction in earnest a few years ago.
Andrew Kreft, executive senior principal and director of design for Newport Beach, California-based Lifescapes International Inc., said the company got involved when Boyd still owned the property. Lifescapes International had been involved in similar projects before the openings of Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas.
“We went over the whole Stardust site and identified the trees that would be worthwhile saving,” he said. While 100 are being used in the project, Kreft said more were salvaged, with some lost along the way or not yet designated for current use. He said the trees were boxed by the original contractor and stored along the northern border of the property, near Circus Circus. Companies were hired to maintain the boxed plants, irrigating and feeding them as needed.
“They’ve been cared for for years,” Kreft said, although, “invariably, when you box things up, you do lose some. When we took over with Genting, we said, ‘Let’s use all we can on the Resorts World site.’ ”
David Strow, Boyd Gaming vice president of corporate communications, said the company was gratified the trees had survived.
“The Stardust was an important part of Boyd Gaming’s history,” Strow said. “More than a decade ago, we decided to preserve these trees as another way of keeping the history of the Stardust alive. We appreciate that the Resorts World team continued that vision and think using these trees is another great way to recognize the Stardust’s legacy.”
Kreft said the reasons for preserving them ranged from the moral to the economic.
“The main reason is we hate to see wonderful trees get cut down or bulldozed; what they can bring to a site is huge,” he said.
“They can bring large trees to a site we couldn’t normally get large trees to,” Kreft said. “Many times these trees are too big to put on the road, physically or legally or both.”
Kreft said Tracy & Ryder, the contractor that moved and planted the trees, had to get a special 75,000-pound forklift to do it.
“We like to say by reusing these trees, you’re buying time,” he said. “You’re giving your landscape a feeling of permanence that it wouldn’t have.”
The trees also are being used in different ways. Olive trees that have been planted around the patio at Brezza Italian restaurant are tantamount to sculpture, he said. “Their trunks can have a lot of unique character.”
Others are being used as focal points in various parts of the property.
“They’re a great thing to have at porte cocheres,” he said. “If you have a view down a corridor, they’re a wonderful thing to light up.”
Kreft said that in addition to olive, the salvaged trees include a mesquite, a couple of kinds of pine and some fan palms being used on the pool deck and at the dayclub.
“They’re all so unique,” he said. “The multi-trunked fan palms; those can be exorbitantly expensive.” He said one Mediterranean fan palm on the pool deck is 40 to 50 years old and has a sort of bouquet formation, with 12 to 15 trunks at varying heights, overall about 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It would cost $35,000 to $40,000 if it even was available in a nursery, which is unlikely because of age and logistics. Kreft said a large tower crane was needed to move the tree to the pool deck.
Other trees, such as the Mondell and Aleppo pines that reach as high as 40 feet tall and are as much as 50 years old, have acquired unique shapes that required them to be placed to take advantage of one side or feature.
“It always is a journey to get to what we get,” Kreft said. “We like to design around our trees. When you look across a landscape you see trees because they’re a vertical thing. Getting to have the kind of large, large trees is really wonderful because it changes the character of the space. It helps to have different sizes, because it increases that feeling of age.”
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