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New sale agreement at Riviera site approved

Updated June 11, 2024 - 4:38 pm

New development could be coming to the Las Vegas Strip as a plan to sell publicly owned land along the north end was approved Tuesday.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted unanimously to split a 10-acre parcel at Elvis Presley and Las Vegas boulevards to two entities: 65SLVB, a partnership of developers Brett Torino and Paul Kanavos, and the development group behind neighboring Fontainebleau resort-casino. The land is part of the former Riviera hotel-casino site.

The Torino-backed group will buy the five acres directly adjacent to Las Vegas Boulevard, dubbed the Front Five Acres, for $12.5 million, and Fontainebleau Development will purchase the Back Five Acres from Torino’s group for $112.5 million.

It’s a diversion from what was originally contracted. 65SLVB has been under contract with the LVCVA to purchase the 10 acres for $125 million since March 2023. Under the new sale agreement, a Fontainebleau Development-backed LLC will make a $10 million nonrefundable deposit to the authority. Both Fontainebleau Development and Torino’s group will be expected to close on the full parcel if the other fails to close on their portion.

Ed Finger, LVCVA’s chief financial officer, told the board he expects the sale to close on or before Nov. 1.

The land originally was to be sold to Chilean developer Claudio Fischer for $120 million, but the sale failed to close in 2022. The LVCVA kept a $7 million nonrefundable deposit and put the parcel back up for sale. As Fischer prepared to close the deal, it was determined that the site needed excavation and fill to prepare for future development.

The board spent about $8.2 million on the ongoing site improvements.

The site has been through several sale agreements since the LVCVA purchased it in 2015. Steve Hill, president and CEO of the tourism authority, attributed the back-and-forth to pandemic disruptions.

“It just changed the landscape for lots and lots of companies and potential owners out there,” Hill said. “So we put it back on the market, and it’s moved pretty quickly since then. It’s just the pandemic that interrupted what had been really good progress and we had to start over again.”

A spokesperson for Torino did not respond to a request for comment on the amended agreement.

Torino and Kanavos have not publicly said what they intend to develop on the site, but the pair were behind two retail complex developments farther south on the Strip: the three-story Harmon Corner and the four-story 63, on the northeast and southwest corners of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, respectively.

Fontainebleau Development referred to a Friday statement from CEO Jeffrey Soffer: “Almost six months into operations, we are already seeing positive and encouraging results for Fontainebleau Las Vegas. This acquisition, which is strategically located for future growth, underscores our confidence in the Las Vegas market. We look forward to disclosing more details in the near future.”

Board member Brian Gullbrants, chief operating officer of Wynn North America, recused himself from discussion and voting because of Wynn’s litigation against Fontainebleau over allegations of poaching of high-level talent.

Contact McKenna Ross at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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