Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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Renovations to Vegas downtown Plaza nearly done

A roughly $35 million overhaul of the downtown Plaza Las Vegas hotel-casino is ahead of schedule, keeping the property on track for a Sept. 1 reopening, the chief executive of its operator tells The Associated Press.

CEO Tony Santo of Play LV said buying furniture, fixtures, wallpaper and other items at a discount from the shuttered Fontainebleau project on the Las Vegas Strip helped stretch the Plaza's renovation budget.

"It elevated what we were originally thinking about doing here," he said.

The Plaza will reopen with a new casino floor, lounges, entertainment and several restaurants, including a steakhouse named for former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Santo said he expects the hotel to compete with top hotels downtown, including the Golden Nugget, and others citywide during a time when Sin City is hoping for an overall rebound in tourism and hoteliers are battling one another for gamblers to patronize their properties.

Gambling revenues in downtown Las Vegas have remained essentially flat through the first five months of 2011, ticking up less than 1 percent compared with the first five months of 2010, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The number of visitors citywide went up 4.7 percent over the same period.

The Plaza closed in November as owner Tamares Group started the renovations, opting to make most of its changes all at once rather than keeping open and changing little by little.

"Our existing product was so bad, it wasn't worth it to struggle and keep it open," Santo said.

Roughly one month before the reopening, the Plaza's rooms look like they're from a completely different hotel, while construction crews have pulled the carpeting, light fixtures and other elements of the casino floor and are starting anew.

"There's really nothing on the casino floor that hasn't been touched," Santo said.

He said the Plaza plans to target typical Sin City customers, including Las Vegas locals and people from the Midwest and West Coast.

He said success will come by convincing gamblers and others that the Plaza has truly changed.

"You have to start somewhere," he said.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia.

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