Takeaways – Tomorrow’s Vegas and the Hangover of 2020?!

April 26, 2018
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One of the things I am committed to is capturing my Takeaways from the various events that I attend throughout the year and sharing them. Click here for Previous Takeaways.

I got to NAIOP relatively early the morning of this program. I was excited about the topic, but to be honest, I wasn’t feeling like writing anything about it. I just wasn’t in the mood. After getting some eggs and fruit I set my phone on the table ready to just sit back and listen.

But then something unexpected happened. The way the moderator opened the show compelled me.

His opening statement… “on this morning we are going to have a conversation about the biggest projects being built on Las Vegas Boulevard. Except this time, we get to have the conversation with the guys in the room. Instead of about those guys when they’re not there.”

That nuance got me like ! The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. That elusive genius creatives talk about spoke to me. Ole! I gobbled up the eggs, turned my chair around, grabbed my phone, and started taking notes. There were going to be Takeaways for sure!!!

Thursday, April12th NAIOP Southern Nevada’s breakfast program was titled – “Billion Dollar Projects” featuring panelist representing the biggest and the baddest projects going on in Las Vegas today!  The breakfast sponsor Alan Jeskey – AJB General Contractors certainly got their buck’s bang with 228 people in attendance. It’s not surprising tho. Big Projects. Big Attendance. More on that lil innuendo later.

As for the panel… you know you have a good panel when Sallie Doebler leans over and says, “that’s a really good panel!” She would know!

Daryl Quick, Director Design & Construction, Caesars Entertainment 
Dude that was moderating  (he was SO good)

Gerald Gardner, General Counsel and SVP Government Affairs, Resorts World 
Dude with a big title (rightfully so)

Sam Nicholson, President, Grand Canyon Development 
Dude building stuff (he built the panel that morning actually)

Bill Allsup, Director, Union Gaming
Dude with all the gelt (and all the numbers)

The two main projects discussed were Resorts World (formerly Echelon) and The Drew (formerly Fontainebleau).

I’m going to share some Takeaways from the panelist. And then I am going to rif on some Takeaways that I found interesting. If you want all the ooey gooey details from that morning check out this story by Buck Wargo. He really captured a lot of the discussion.

The first MAJOR Takeaway that morning was from Gerald. He finally put to rest the divisive debate within the community on how to properly pronounce Genting (the Malaysian company building Resorts World). Its with a soft G, as in (g-enting). So the next time you hear Floyd in your Accounting department pronounce Genting as (j-enting), feel free to vigorously correct him like you would if an east-coaster pronounced Nevada as Nev-AH-da. It’s Nevada Ooh Na-Na.

Other interesting items shared is the Resorts World parcel spans 87 acres from Las Vegas Blvd. all the way to Sammy Davis Jr. Dr. The developers are incorporating that in the design for access. There are currently 5 tower cranes on the property and concrete is being poured. The tower floors are up to level 14 of what will eventually be a 3,400 room resort. Expected delivery… 2020!

Sam was up next to talk about The Drew, formerly Fontainebleau. So what are they up to? Anyone else catch how that rhymes? The Drew will have 9 million square feet of enclosed space with 4,000 rooms. Expected delivery… 2020! The current state of the project is that dreadfully expensive stage known as “redesign”. Interestingly, when it was planned just 11 years ago, we didn’t have this little thing in our lives called ride-sharing. The 25 acre site at the north west corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Elvis Presley Blvd. is figuring out how guests will get in and out of the place in an Uber or Lyft if you can imagine that.

Gerald talked about other design considerations critical for properties in “Tomorrow’s Vegas”. Things like attracting foot traffic off the Strip, gamified space for non-monetary gaming, and offering meeting & convention space to not just be a dormitory for the Convention Center.

Bill Allsup then chimed in. His comments were impactful bringing reality to the discussion. Bill brought up how these projects and a few other movements will change the north side of the Strip. There is approximately 10,000 new hotel rooms planned for Las Vegas. How will they be filled – with new visitors or cannibalized revenue from other properties? Money sources are betting it’s the former. And the bet is that new planned attractions like the Raiders, Convention Center, and the Madison Square Garden immersive theater will bring first time visitors.

What do you think? Will Tomorrow’s Vegas successfully reinvent and increase the visitor profile with the north Strip, and gamified space, and immersive theaters and professional sports, and professional e-sports, and meetings and conventions, and new mega resorts? Sounds like a party to me!!

And as we traverse toward Tomorrow’s Vegas will everybody be a winner or will it become survival of the fittest?

Here are some things to watch closely and maybe even have some concern for.

Declared changes in trade policies with China have increased the cost of steel and raw materials. On one hand, this has encouraged the owners who can, to make commitments and buy stuff early. Nothing like getting these big boys pregnant! Those who don’t have the juice to pull this off though will pay a premium later. Now the other hand… increased costs causes developers to innovate and look at what can be prefabricated to bring down labor costs.

The prospect of increased labor costs didn’t much concern the panelist. The availability of labor did! Both on the construction side and when the properties finally open. These multi-billion dollar projects can afford to pay what they need to get the necessary labor to open their projects on time. The concern for the overall community are the ancillary projects that might be on the fringes of viability. Add a little here for material, a little there for labor, and oops some delays increase carrying costs… that cocktail can cause projects not to launch at all. Or worse… fail!

I’m not sure what to make of all this except to reminisce how Yesterday’s Vegas prepared for New Year’s Eve when it changed from 1999 to 2000. First of all Prince’s song, Party Like It’s 1999, played the entire season like Christmas Music. But also the magnificent hoopla about Y2K, the alleged coding bug, that was supposed to wreak havoc on computers and systems across the world. Remember that?! There was all this build up and nothing materialized. Well nothing materialized with the bug anyway. Sorry. I digressed.

Different than the Y2K build up you know some mishegas is going to materialize New Year’s Eve 2020. All these Big Projects will draw Big Attendance. Population will increase along the way. It’s going to be a paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaartay!

But what happens the next morning after the walk of shame? Does Tomorrow’s Vegas rally and keep the party going? Or is there going to be the Hangover of 2020?! Let’s count down and find out together!


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