Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2014

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Latest purchase of Frontier land is a sober deal

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Las Vegas Sun file photo

The site of the New Frontier — a casino imploded seven years ago — has been sold to Crown Resorts.

New Frontier Implosion

Fireworks explode before the implosion of the New Frontier hotel tower in Las Vegas, Nevada November 13, 2007. The casino on The Las Vegas Strip was purchased by Elad properties, an Israeli-owned real estate investment group, for more than U.S. $1.2 billion in May 2007. Elad Group, which also owns the Plaza hotel in New York, and the IDB Group are expected to build a Plaza-themed, multi-billion dollar megaresort on the site. Launch slideshow »

Quick quiz: Which Strip transaction was Steve Wynn referring to when he said the buyers were spending as if they were on a “drunken spree?”

Answer: the El-Ad Group’s purchase of the New Frontier in 2007.

The group paid almost $36 million an acre in a $1.2 billion transaction, only to walk away from the deal after the recession hit a short time later.

In an interview for the book “Nevada 150,” celebrating the state’s sesquicentennial anniversary, Wynn mocked the deal.

“They walked away from $900 million in the end,” he said. “We talk about the resort boom of the 1990s. Well, the destruction was in 2008 and 2009. They took on all that money without even blinking. Why? Because they thought they could.”

The man who initiated the deal was the late commercial real estate dealmaker David Atwell, who always said that record-breaking purchase for a Strip parcel was one of the highlights of his career.

The man who owns it now, Crown Resorts Chairman James Packer, not long ago was the focus of rumors about the sale of the Cosmopolitan. As in, he was the one said to buying it from Deutsche Bank, which eventually sold to the Blackstone Group.

Instead, Packer is developing the Frontier. He paid $280 million for the famed parcel.

It’s a bargain with a good view of the unfinished Fontainebleau, where Packer lost a bundle. But as we have learned on the Strip (and in blackjack, for that matter), if you stay in the game long enough, the cards will turn.

• The lawsuit filed July 31 by Beauty Bar co-owner Darin Feinstein against patron Megan Trivette has ignited a conversation around downtown and on social media about how Feinstein showed up the night he and a group of friends visited the bar and met Trivette.

The interaction led Trivette to post a searing account of her visit, saying Feinstein and his “party bros” harassed her and her friends at the club entrance. Feinstein is suing Trivette for personal defamation and professional disparagement, focusing on her claims that a member of her group was told she would gain entry only after giving the owner a kiss on the cheek, while another was denied entry and had a $20 bill “thrown back at her.”

That night, July 5, Feinstein and his entourage rolled up in a limousine with a Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club sign painted on the doors. Feinstein’s father, Peter, owns the strip club.

A limousine is a stylish way to be delivered anywhere. But showing up at a Fremont Street bar in a limousine with a strip club logo is a sure way to agitate the entertainment district’s frequenters, a point that has been reinforced since Feinstein’s suit was made public.

As a business operator on Fremont Street told me last week, Fremont East is the antithesis of such massive nightspots as Sapphire. The outcroppings of businesses are a counter, not a complement, to the city’s mega-nightclub culture. Anyone who hangs out there regularly will tell you that, and it is a reality that any new owner in the area — including this one — should understand if he is to be welcomed into that neighborhood.

• On the topic of the Beauty Bar saga, let’s talk of the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. The two indeed are connected.

Among those recently inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame’s class of 2014 was Colleen McCarty, a former longtime member of the KLAS Channel 8 I-Team. McCarty now works at Gordon Silver, a law firm, with First Amendment specialist Dominic Gentile, who has taken on the civil case for Feinstein. McCarty also is working on that suit and is named on the complaint as one of Feinstein’s attorneys.

• Astute motorists on the Strip will notice a change in signs. Not exactly on the Strip, actually, but just to the west, where the old Caesars Palace sign leading from Flamingo Road into the resort has been changed to Augustus Way.

For years, the sign displayed the famous typo “Caesar’s Palace,” until NDOT was notified of the errant reference to the hotel and made the fix about nine years ago.

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