weather icon Clear

Developer of new Las Vegas Strip resort has backer in Trump

Updated June 23, 2018 - 7:43 pm

The man behind the Las Vegas Strip’s first new resort since 2010 received an endorsement Saturday from a powerful figure: the president of the United States.

New York developer Steve Witkoff joined President Donald Trump and others at the South Point for a victory lap of sorts over the tax cuts the president signed into law in December.

The group of about 10 spoke to a packed crowd in the 400-seat Showroom. Trump also gave the keynote address at the Nevada State Republican Party Convention.

Witkoff plans to open The Drew Las Vegas in 2020 next to the Peppermill Lounge and across the street from another project waylaid by the recession, Resorts World.

‘A bet on Nevada’

Earlier this year, Marriott International announced $50 million for an ownership stake in the former Fontainebleau property.

Witkoff told the audience The Drew is 75 percent built and will have 4,000 rooms. He expects the project to cost $3 billion and create 7,000 permanent jobs and 3,500 construction jobs.

Trump called Witkoff a pal and a “special man.” Witkoff said in an interview after the event that he credits Trump, a longtime real estate developer, with helping him leave real estate law to become a developer himself.

“It’s been a blessing,” Witkoff told the crowd.

The men’s friendship included Trump’s attendance at the funeral of Witkoff’s son Andrew, the namesake for The Drew, who died from a drug overdose in 2011. He was 22.

Witkoff told the crowd that some of the proceeds from The Drew will go to charity to help people with addictions.

“I liked Andrew,” Trump said. “He was a great young man.”

In the interview, Witkoff said the local population growth helped sell him on getting into the Las Vegas market.

He said he had dinner with Steve Wynn two months ago to talk about the project and how its success could help Wynn Las Vegas and other nearby properties.

He said he’ll pass a significant milestone in July 2019 when he closes on a construction loan.

“This is not just a bet on hotels and casinos,” Witkoff said. “It’s a bet on Nevada.”

Praised for cuts

The South Point event put the president face to face with Las Vegans, who thanked him for the tax deal and explained how the cuts have helped their businesses and personal lives.

Elisa Slider, of local hay deliverer Silver State Hay, told Trump on stage that she’s seen a 30 percent increase in sales.

“Our customers are confident in the economy,” she said.

South Point general manager Ryan Growney told Trump the hotel-casino gave employees $1 million in extra holiday bonuses because of the tax cuts.

Most employees received just under $500 each, while some of the higher-compensated workers got between $700 and $2,300.

“We were excited about the announcement,” Growney said.

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, also on stage, praised a recent announcement from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce for pursuing a shared health plan for its members, a possibility thanks to a rule change by the Trump administration earlier this week.

“She’s a great negotiator,” Trump said of chamber CEO Mary Beth Sewald. “Make a good deal.”

Cavin Fung, founder of local nonprofit Asian Culture Alliance, told the president the tax cut had helped his members, and he presented the president with a book by Las Vegas author Mae Chang Koh.

“Your tax cut has delivered an enormous impact on our community,” Fung said. “Thank you and continue to be our greatest president in history.”

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward@reviewjournal.com. Follow @wademillward on Twitter

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump declares victory in Syria

President Donald Trump declared victory in announcing a permanent cease fire in northern Syria, but warned he could re-impose sanctions if Turkey breaks the terms of the agreement.

Trump’s lynching claim renews pain for kin of actual victims

Relatives of racist lynchings were aghast Tuesday after President Trump compared his own possible impeachment to lynching — racist killings that claimed at least 4,400 lives.

Russians deploy on Syrian border; US has 4 weeks to leave Iraq

Quickly moving to implement an accord with Turkey that divvies up control of northeastern Syria, Russia told Kurdish fighters to pull back from the entire frontier or else face being “steamrolled” by Turkish forces.