Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

March 14, 2007

mike_ch Construction Update: March 2007

Posted by Hunter

Another construction update from mike_ch. This one covers Paris, Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, The Venetian, Encore, Palazzo, Stardust (RIP), Frontier, Bellagio, Planet Aladdin, and Luxor.

Thanks again to him for providing this stuff.

Photos are located here:

Also, we've got new VIDEOS! You can watch them here (goes from most recent to older):

I'll be in Vegas this weekend to see Spamalot, take some photos, tour the CityCenter sales pavilion and attend wedding (not in that order).

Welcome to the latest installment of my photo/text construction diaries. Along with a look at the usual projects, this update includes extra day-after Stardust implosion wreckage. Enjoy!

I'm upset with this entry, to be honest, because I had some extra photos I meant to give Hunter that turned out to become corrupted upon plugging my camera into the Mac and importing with iPhoto. I don't know what iPhoto is doing, but it destroyed 10 of about 150 total photos and they were mostly unique shots I spontaneously took for this column. This includes the new Bill's signage, a very nice CityCenter shot, and a shot of the Adventuredome covered in implosion ash. I'm sure similar photos will appear in time online in the usual publishing sites, though.

Ortanique is no more. It is now Le Burger Brasserie & Sports Bar. It looks like a modern, dark-toned casual restaurant. Unfortunately, Paris was hosting a large convention for the entertainment industry (imagine crowds and the whole interior of the resort covered in Transformers movie ads and you have an idea of what it's like.) One of the effects of this was that the new restaurant was closed for a private function, although it is finished since i saw people eating in there.

With Paris crowded and Bally's not much better, I had to find other choices for food. So why not the newest hot must-see thing on the Strip? That's right, I'm talking about...

Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon:
I almost never went inside the Barbary Coast except for a few small visits on one my "Dump Tours," which are visits of less than appealing casinos. The kind of places I refuse to hang out and gamble in, but feel obligated to at least walk through so I don't regret ignoring it come demolition day. This was rather inappropriate, as Barbary seemed far less than a dump, but it wasn't my scene. It's never the place I would find myself gambling (or later, gamblin') in even though I've had a Club Coast card for almost two years. Turns out, it is somebody's favorite, and those people are vocal online and scared of what Harrah's is doing to the place. And the name, well, you've heard the buzz. It's less than positive, so I'll be sure to mention Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon as many times as properly possible just to set off those old Barbary die-hards. ;D

There's really nothing too impressive going on here. Bill's signage has appeared above the front door of Barbary Coast although the big Barbary Coast letters on the Flamingo Rd side of the building are still there. It seems Harrah's put a (rather cheap looking) marquee up, scrubbed the Boyd Gaming logos off the machines, put some new felt on the tables, changed the name on everything from store receipts to the restaurant place-mats (although there's still plenty of Coast Casinos stuff at the gift shop) and then threw the doors back open. A sign at the entrance welcomes you to Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, "the newest name on the Strip." There you have it: Wynn, meet Palazzo. Palazzo, meet Encore. Encore, meet Echelon. Echelon, meet CityCenter. CityCenter, meet Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon.

Outside of changing signs, there isn't really anything construction-related going on here. I had lunch at Victorian Room, and the review was submitted to the RateVegas database if you care to read it.

[Ed: The link to the review is here:]

Hi there, Sheldy. I'm glad that you've decided to acknowledge my reports by really going all-out and finally fixing up that clock-tower of yours. I'm glad to see you're even patching up the drill holes. I'm sorry I had to keep a tab on how long you left that damage to sit there and distract you from your other endeavors, but I'm sure you'll thank me for it later when your patch of the Strip looks fresh again. But while I notice the good, I notice the bad, too. Other pieces of the The Venetian's facade are falling apart. There's some wrecked awnings just above the casino entrance, and while something like a torn awning isn't really that big a deal, when it's just about ripped off it's supports and clearly visible from the other side of the street it's worth mentioning. If you can fix that in the next month or so, I'll really flip my lid. With luv, mike_ch.

The letter P has been removed off the Palazzo name on the strip-side porte-cochère roof. It looks like it was cut out with a giant x-acto knife or something.

Otherwise, construction on the hotel tower is now really picking up. The facade has also sped along since the last update and different colors and shapes (or, say it with me now, gewgaws) are appearing on the tower's walls. After so much time spent working on the ground floor, is it now time to really hustle on the tower?

What's more to say? The Wynn parking garage is flattened like a pancake with only a few felled wall pieces and, of course, the roof lighting sticking out of the pile to let you know what it once was.

Oh, the things I do for you people. Trying to get today's picture of Stardust wreckage I wound up briefly trapped on a center divider of the strip about one-person wide on the Convention Center Blvd intersection. Then throw in all the drivers not paying attention to what they're doing because they want to gawk at the fresh kill. I began taking pictures of all the carnage going on, it's less compelling to hit someone who can take photographic evidence, isn't it? Those photos are fit to go into Webster's next to the definition of fear.

Anyway, there's not too much to put here except to tell you to look at the photo gallery. The big tower is gone, and it's a smaller pile of trash on the ground than you might have expected for such a big building. The smaller tower is gone, and it left a bigger heap trash on the ground than you might have expected for such a small building. Taken together, it looks like a tiny post-apocalyptic wasteland. The motel buildings are just beginning to be torn down and there's still a good quarter of the Strip facade left to go. Whoever thought that the Sushi King and Cocoa Buffet signs facing the street would outlive the neon icon and the towers themselves?

Continuing the theme, the wreckage here is impressive to look at but still very ugly nonetheless. I hope that in a few weeks the cleanup crews will be able to.... Never mind, it appears this resort is actually still in one piece. This is the Frontier, the hotel that just refuses to die. What were you expecting? However, Little Caesars is now Phil's NY Pizza. Phil Ruffin is from Wichita, which is quite a walk from New York. So they might as well give it some pizzaz and say the Phil is Phil Collins, Dr. Phil, or even Punxsutawney Phil. They're equally qualified as experts in this field. Stick with your self-titled steakhouse, Phil. Dare I ask for Trump Pizza?

The return of 80-something high temps can only mean spring is here, and so the decorators have gone throughout with big flowers hanging everywhere. See the gallery for the lobby/conservatory eye candy. The new display is sort of a new twist on the old butterfly net. The stage is set to make you feel like you're walking through a giant garden, and at the centerpiece area is a house made of glass with the butterflies everywhere inside. The bugs are fully enclosed in their own spaces, so you can walk through the glass house and see them around you. The usual water shooter arcs over the walkways and such are all here, of course.

Bellagio was the only place where I tried playing on this trip, and I'll spare you my gambling tale. Let's just say that no matter how soft the seats at those slots are, my backside is still sore when I leave.

p_____ _________ (AKA Aladdin) :
The exterior of the building has a big red lower-case P on it now. Hooks and structures are in place to hang other letters. Still did not go inside. The facade destruction hasn't changed much since the last update, just some more phony domes on the top have been ripped away. The big LED billboard for the mall is now running demos (fish screen-savers!), ads, and promotions for Miracle Mile, which is what Desert Passage will change it's name to officially sometime this May when it feels ready to put out some press releases. The LED screen is pretty cool, actually. It's not a full Wynn style jaw-dropper but it's impressive. I'm a bit concerned about them blasting bright light directly across into the rooms at Bellagio, though. Fountain view rooms could see a lot of light pollution.

Only a small detail to report. The lobby lounge is now open. It's very black and aside from some color-changing glass tubes over the bar there's almost nothing in the way of decoration. There's not even a sign to report that it's open, but the usual lounge crowd has flocked to it already. This establishment's name is Aurora, and I only know this because there's an advertisement on the way in from the Excalibur walkway, quite a ways away from the actual lounge. This easily makes Octane look flashy, so I hope they're not done decorating or something. The sports lounge in the former high limit room looks better arranged, and has more chairs and screens, but there's still no sign saying that something is supposed to be there nor is there anyone around. Employees and customers alike are just ignoring it.


Read archived comments (11 so far)
March 15, 2007 12:47 PM Posted by DavidF

Great Report Mike, Especially the Frontier comments.

I haven't visited Paris since the Harrahs take over, but the renaming of Ortanique to Le Burger Brasserie & Sports Bar pretty much sums up what they have done to the place, whch is pretty much what I expected....

And the Venetian isn't falling apart, its just gaining a Patina.... ;-)

March 15, 2007 2:40 PM Posted by BrianFey

Nice Report. I just love these, keep up the good work!

March 16, 2007 6:42 AM Posted by TC

Can you report on the smell near Palazzo? Couple weeks back while in Vegas every time I walked by it, it stunk of raw sewerage. Wondering if that is still lingering, its quite pungent.

March 16, 2007 12:31 PM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, thanks for the report. When I finally get back to Vegas, it's going to look quite different. I'm not a fan of the giant flowers, but Bellagio's conservatory looked quite good in your photos. I'm glad Venetian is finally fixing the clock tower, but it will still look cheesy as shown in your photo with the seams of the panels not even.

March 16, 2007 12:45 PM Posted by detroit1051

Regarding Planet Hollywood, In Business Las Vegas has an interesting interview with co-chair Robert Earl:

March 16, 2007 3:55 PM Posted by mike_ch

Certain areas of the Strip just have really bad sewer waste smells. Caesars had it for quite a while along the sidewalk by their fountains, which brought about the nickname "Sewers Palace" among some people and made me wonder why they were planning an outdoor plaza there. They did a bunch of work at Strip/Flamingo last year ago that cleaned it out.

I've smelled it before at Strip/Spring Mountain before, but not anytime recently, and not in any fashion that specifically pointed at Palazzo, but I'll be sure to, uh, take a whiff next time. Generally it's just poor performing sewers and the fact that thousands and thousands of toilets go online at any given street corner on the Strip every few years, and the county seems woefully under prepared to handle their needs.

March 17, 2007 9:43 AM Posted by Mike P.

This should bring joy to mike_ch. There are pictures up at skyscraperpage showing site clearance work and what appear to be wall panels for construction offices at Wet 'n Wild, the location of the proposed Las Vegas Tower.

Does the LVT developer know something about the upcoming planning commission meeting that the public doesn't?

Here's the link to the skyscraperpage thread:

March 18, 2007 12:35 PM Posted by KY

At this time last year the sewage smell was palpable at the very southern-most corner of the sidewalk in front of Bellagio. Crews were there all day and all night (with big lights); I believe it was at the corner where you'd turn in to drive up to the Bellagio entrance. It was one of the worst smells I've ever experienced.

March 19, 2007 3:50 PM Posted by Leonard Stern

Good news re the future of the New Frontier: I just received this information today that Ruffin has sold the entire Frontier property to a first-rate Israeli developer which means the end of that abortion designed by Steelman, "Montreux". Thank God! This developer is known for absorbing/developing super high end luxury properties, just look at his portfolio.

September 11, 2007 7:07 PM Posted by carol russell

What was the reason the Fountainblue/Turnberry garage collapsed?

September 11, 2007 7:43 PM Posted by Hunter