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Stevens has ‘Grandissimo’ vision for downtown Las Vegas resort

Updated February 1, 2018 - 7:47 pm

Fremont Street might have its own Grandissimo.

Derek Stevens, co-owner of The D Las Vegas, is busy remaking what he calls “the most important city block in the history of Las Vegas,” on the corner of Main and Fremont streets. Stevens is demolishing, in a very measured manner, Las Vegas Club, Glitter Gulch and Mermaids to create a block-long resort near the very spot where Las Vegas was born.

“The significance of that location is hard to overstate, with 20 million people visiting downtown every year,” Stevens said during an interview on Kats! On the Radio on KUNV 91.5-FM (I am the Kats in that equation). “We have a responsibility not just for downtown, but for all of the community to do something special there.”

Stevens offers no specific timeline or details on design or how many rooms are to be open in his new resort. He did say the name would be a throwback Las Vegas reference.

“It will not be Las Vegas Club, we did not buy that name,” Stevens said. “We want something that would be unique to Las Vegas, and I always like to incorporate from the past because of downtown’s history.”

Some of his favorite old-Vegas names, such as Stardust, are already owned — Boyd Gaming still has Stardust.

But one Stevens does own is Grandissimo, the name of the late Jay Sarno’s inspired but unrealized megaresort on the Strip. Stevens became enamored of Sarno, who opened Circus Circus and Caesars Palace, through the book, “Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas,” written by Las Vegas historian and author David Schwartz.

“We locked up the name well before we bought the Las Vegas Club,” Stevens said. “The name, the story, the innovation and creativity of Jay Sarno is so important in the history of Las Vegas. So many of his ideas have been incorporated into today’s resorts, so many of his concepts made Las Vegas unique, special and attractive.”

Stevens stopped short of saying Grandissimo was his final choice for the new property.

“I’m not sure that’s the path we’re going to go down,” he said, not ruling out that option and, as usual, playing his cards close to the vest.

Venues in the mix

The updated list of venues in play for the inaugural Emerge Music and Impact Conference set for April 6-8 includes Brooklyn Bowl, Harrah’s Showroom, Harrah’s Cabaret, Linq Showroom, The Space and Bunkhouse Saloon. Hard Rock Hotel, whence the conference was announced last June, is not being used for what are termed scheduling reasons.

Emerge is a veritable petri dish for rising artists and keynote speakers who are “appreciators of human complexity,” as founder Rehan Choudhry explains. The full and detailed schedule is not yet announced.

Cycle du Soleil

Word from the scene is the new Cirque du Soleil production at Luxor to replace Criss Angel’s “Mindfreak Live” will be feature, at least in part, top BMX athletes. Cirque Senior Vice President Jerry Nadal has confirmed no traditional Cirque acrobats the new show, which has never toured and is fully unique to Las Vegas.

International gridiron action

A favorite Super Bowl Sunday-related party is again set for International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas. The 1,500-seat venue open to the general public beginning at 2 p.m. The balcony is no-cover charge, the lower level is $100 and that includes a seat and drinks and food throughout the “Big Game.”

Jay Kornegay, the longtime Westgate Superbook director, says the game should set a statewide record.

“Nevada handled $135.5 million on last year’s game, and I expect us to easily surpass that this year,” Kornegay says. “Sports gaming is more popular than ever, mobile betting applications give bettors new convenience, it’s an intriguing matchup, and the economy is solid.”

Kornegay says one guest has placed a six-figure bet on Eagles QB Nick Foles at minus-200 to connect on more than one TD pass.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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