Steve Marcus / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010 | 1:06 p.m.
- Jewelry hub won’t adorn Symphony Park soon (8-19-2009)
- Union Park’s new name music to city officials’ ears (5-20-2009)
The economy is putting a crimp in plans for a boutique hotel designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer in the 61-acre Symphony Park in downtown Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas City Council decided Wednesday to allow the developer to delay construction for at least two years on the 426-room, non-gaming hotel — and possibly as long as four years.
Construction was to have begun this year on the undeveloped property adjacent to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which is currently under construction.
Rick Kaufman, one of the hotel developers, explained to the council that the "boutique" terminology means that the hotel would provide a more personalized service than the area's larger hotels provide.
"The idea of this hotel is to bring an experience that I don't think exists in Las Vegas, and really concentrating on the non-gaming person who comes to Las Vegas, whether it's for business or recreation or what have you," Kaufman said.
"We believe this extension is in the best interest of making this project happen," said Bill Arent, director of the city's office of business development.
The new agreement will give the developers a two-tiered extension to begin construction. The first tier would extend the construction start date to Feb. 27, 2012.
Two additional one-year extensions would also be available to the developers, with 30 days written notice and a presentation by the developer to the city council of the market status and the financing feasibility, Arent said.
"This project was proposed as a hospitality project, a non-gaming hotel," he said. "The hospitality market right now in Las Vegas is struggling and is to experience some challenges in a few years to come."
He said the extension is designed to allow the developer to succeed by waiting until the market recovers.
"They are spending money on the entire project," he said. That includes the design and development drawings and the business plan of how the property will be managed, Arent said.
They have also put up a $484,348 deposit on the land, he said.
"We want to collectively take a look in two years," he said. "If the project timing isn't ready to start construction in two years, we want to sit down and have an honest dialogue about what is the market telling us."
Councilman Steve Wolfson asked what would happen in two years if the city and the developer disagreed about whether the market would allow a non-gaming hotel in the park to succeed.
"It's really up to the developer at that point. That market information is really just to give us a comfort level that when they do move forward, they will be successful," Arent said.
Arent said the hospitality market hinges on factors that include visitor coming to Las Vegas and competition with the existing hotel room inventory on the Strip.
Councilman Ricki Barlow said, based on the city's own budget projects, he thought the economy would take at least three years to improve.
Mayor Oscar Goodman said he had suggested the two-tiered approach because to put it off for four years would have sent the wrong message.
"I think we have to have a message of optimism. We have to believe that the economy is going to come back and come back to such a point that within two years they would be able to begin construction," Goodman said. "...I just felt psychologically, it was the right thing to do."
Last August, the city has granted a six-year extension to the World Jewelry Center developers to complete their project, which had the goal of housing as many as 500 of the world’s 15,000-20,000 jewelry manufacturers and dealers.
Symphony Park also includes the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which is also under construction.