The Plaza, the Gold Spike and the Golden Gate are some of the hotels downtown that have undergone renovations in the past couple of years. Now the D, 301 Fremont St., can be added to the list.
Once a staple along the Fremont Street Experience with its neon rainbow, what was Fitzgeralds for 25 years has transformed into the D, a name that pays homage to downtown, the nickname of its majority owner, Derek Stevens, and his hometown of Detroit.
Stevens said remodeling the hotel, which he bought with his brother, Greg Stevens, in October, was a no-brainer.
“When we first began negotiating to buy the property, we came to a rather quick conclusion to remodel and revamp the hotel,” Stevens said. “With the casino being a two-story property, we thought, ‘What can we do to distinguish it?’ ”
Stevens took advantage of the hotel’s aesthetic and created two distinct areas to represent old-school and modern Las Vegas.
The first floor includes some of the newest slot machines, music and its signature feature, the Longbar, a 100-foot bar that includes 15 70-inch TVs. The second floor, Stevens said, is “oriented toward vintage Las Vegas,” with quieter music, more neon and old casino games such as the Sigma Derby, which was installed in June.
“With the second floor, we wanted to show what Vegas was like 20 years ago, 40 years ago,” Stevens said. “The Sigma Derby is a game that epitomizes old Vegas. When I think of Sigma Derby, I think of a group of people standing around, all smiling, laughing, cheering together.”
Brad Stegman, vice president of slots at the D, said installing Sigma Derby marks the beginning of the second floor’s transformation into a vintage-style casino.
“The first phase is putting in the Sigma Derby,” Stegman said. “Now we’re adding slots that people may not have anymore. Some machines are even being shipped overseas. We have to go out and find these machines and getting all of those old games people want.”
Since the installation of Sigma Derby, Stegman said the casino has stayed “packed” and anticipates more visitors as the D adds machines during its renovations. One aspect he and Stevens are focusing on is catering to locals, beginning with free slot tournaments each Wednesday.
“We started having free slot tournaments for locals on the Fourth of July, and we’ve had a great turnout,” Stegman said. “We’ll have these every week, and we think locals are really going to love that.”
Stevens said focusing on residents falls in line with being part of the revitalization downtown. Providing incentives for locals to visit the D, he said, adds to the area’s momentum.
“We’re really starting to make a push for locals,” Stevens said. “People would be surprised, if they haven’t been down here in awhile, to see how Fremont (Street) has evolved in the last 24 months. I think there’s so much inertia right now. Look at what Tilman Fertitta made at the Golden Nugget a few years ago, The Smith Center opening, the new City Hall … what Tony (Hsieh) is doing, not just with Zappos, but the capital he’s committed to invest in downtown. All this stuff is part of something that will give momentum. They’re all building blocks.”
The $15 million renovation project, which includes remodeling of the hotel’s 638 rooms, is expected to be complete in October, one year since the Stevens brothers took ownership of the hotel. Though the D’s transformation is moving along as Stevens expected, he is eager for the hotel’s grand reopening.
“I’m excited to get to the point where I can say we’ve worked on the project for a year,” Stevens said. “I’m looking forward to getting out of construction mode and getting into operational mode. It’s been mostly behind the scenes up until now. I just look forward to the re-grand opening that should take place in October.”
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 383-4686.