Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 2, 2011

Open Topic Discussion - August, 2011

Posted by detroit1051

Phil mentioned we haven't had an Open Topic Discussion in a while, so with Hunter's permission, let me start with my cynical comments on Project Linq which will be on the Clark County Zoning Commission agenda on Augst 3:

Project Linq

- 64 acres of Strip/near Strip land is being turned into a carnival midway, complete with Ferris wheel.

- 30% total reduction in parking spaces at Harrah's, Flamingo, IP, etc. This will put pressure on Wynn's and LVS's parking spaces.

-The following list of property uses is enough for me to call it a mess:
Alcohol sales, liquor (packaged only)
Alcohol sales, beer and wine sales
Commercial/retail sales
Mobile food cart/booth vendors
Kiosk/information (outdoor)
Outdoor live entertainment
Convention facilities/exposition halls
Art gallery/studio
Convenience stores
Motion picture production/studio
Movie theaters
Tattoo parlors
Billiard halls
Health clubs
Jewelry sales
Photo studios
Psychic arts
Recording studio
Sporting goods
Farmer's Markets

The recession has already changed the character of the Strip. Note the increase in violent crime, costumed characters and homeless begging for money especially on pedestrian overpasses. It's raised enough concern that the Clark County Commission will discuss how to address the problems. This kind of development will change the Strip forever, and I'm not sure it will be a good investment for Caesars Entertainment.


Read archived comments (21 so far)
August 2, 2011 2:47 PM Posted by Dave

Farmer's market?


Because I know VM's been flooded with Vegas visitors looking for a place they can score some farm fresh corn, right?

It kind of sounds like they want to replicate the Atlantic City Boardwalk on the Strip. Because that market's doing so well.

I'll get the Mr. Peanut costume out of storage.

August 2, 2011 3:07 PM Posted by Dave

Farmer's market?


Because I know VM's been flooded with Vegas visitors looking for a place they can score some farm fresh corn, right?

It kind of sounds like they want to replicate the Atlantic City Boardwalk on the Strip. Because that market's doing so well.

I'll get the Mr. Peanut costume out of storage.

August 2, 2011 6:07 PM Posted by Ted Newkirk

I don't believe that they are gunning for every single use mentioned. Rather they are covering their bases. If they want to do any of the listed uses, no one can say "Hey, that wasn't part of the plan".

With their arena (if it gets built), I think that they want to keep their options open for as much mixed-use as possible to get locals down there often.

I've unfortunately misplaced the article, but a few months ago reading how the idea originated with Harrah's New Orleans and they were looking for a similar synergy.

I'm a little lost on how reduction of Linq area parking is going to put a strain on Wynn and LVS. I certainly could see it putting a strain on Ballys/Paris, Bellagio and Mirage. Although at the end of the day, the only time hotel parking garages come anywhere close to maxing out is New Years Eve.

Side Note: If it puts a strain on the Casino Royale garage, I'll be pissed. Still the best kept secret in town.

As much as Steve Wynn hates it, the future of post-recession Strip might be a whole lot more Fremont Street Experience and less Wynn/Venetian. Be interesting to see if it flies.

August 2, 2011 6:30 PM Posted by jonas jones

This sounded silly 5(?) years ago when it was first announced. Now they are proposing something with even less of a point of view. The alley between O'Sheas and Flamingo can't be more than 30 feet wide, until you get back to the Flamingo Tennis Courts, which I'm sure would have to be ripped out to support this development. Their proposal seems like a claustrophobic Freemont street, but less fun!
If Caesar's is flush with cash I'd tell them to focus on their unfinished tower, and general upkeep at ALL of their properties.

August 3, 2011 5:47 AM Posted by detroit1051

Since this is an Open Topic, I'm stretching to tie this story to Las Vegas. Genting aspires to be among the top global casino operators and is investing heavily in Miami. There's no question they're betting on commercial casinos being approved in South Florida in the next few years. Genting has passed on Las Vegas, saying they don't see the potential there as much as elsewhere. Genting is opening Aqueduct's racino in NYC this fall.

Could Miami take business away from Vegas:
“Miami in itself is already an attractive destination; you’re just going to heighten that. You could easily take a potential trip away from Vegas. Rather than flying five hours to Vegas, I can get to Miami in two hours. There’s no question that’s a great way to start if you’re coming from outside the U.S. and trying to build a reputation.”

This is an exciting story for South Florida and, despite the recession (or perhaps because of it), Miami is becoming very attractive to South American and Asian investors.

August 3, 2011 1:03 PM Posted by parchedearth

Bringing a little bit of the state fair to the strip. They will have to go cheap in order to ensure a return on investment. I just can't see how this pencils out to be a good idea.

August 3, 2011 11:03 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

I think this project has great potential. Just as I like the Miracle Mile for owning its own mid- to upper-mid-market retail niche, I think Project Linq will grab a similar -- maybe slightly lower -- niche one big block north. The "observation" wheel (big Ferris Wheel, sorry Caesars) will do well and the retail, dining and other stuff is smack dab in the middle of the perfect kind of properties for it. It will end up "linking" (sorry) together the wall of Caesars properties from Paris to Harrah's (and that's a lot of rooms and gaming, including Bally's, Bill's, Flamingo, O'Sheas and IP).
On the other hand, this addition, along with a possible arena, just make the Rio seem more superfluous.

August 4, 2011 5:14 AM Posted by detroit1051

Jeff, I'm glad you balanced my cynicism with a more positive opinion of Linq. Regarding Rio, who would be the likely buyers? Didn't PNK have interest at one time and then decided it wouldn't be a good fit?

August 4, 2011 5:31 AM Posted by TC from Boston

I sort of like this idea and will open CE to do other things with other areas.

If I am understanding the design and the proposals correctly, this is going to be a great area for the mid market guests a place to shop, eat and generally hang out. It will certainly make the IP more appealing to stay in with a new exterior, and I assume an interior remodel will probably start to happen soon.

Then hopefully Harrahs will fix the hodge podge that is the carnival court, that place sucks.

I think it will work, and be an interesting place for joe schmo first timer to go and spend a few hours. But no us regulars aren't going to be amused with this.

August 4, 2011 8:51 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

How about semi (or fully) autonomus transfer of the Rio from Caesars to the Palms? Since most of the ownership of both properties is the same, and apparantly Caesars can't get anywhere near what they think it's worth, why not let George Maloof take a spin with it? His operational style and reputation would appear to be the closest to the Marnell way. That kind of thinking might help it get back some of it's faded luster.

August 4, 2011 10:05 AM Posted by worldpool

I think its not a good thing at all I like the idea of jobs and and bring people to see this but the bad part is that they should of has it somewere build in a empty land insted of on the strip becuase once they break ground people won't move place to place on the strip people also mite lose jobs sence they will build this and people won't like the noise wile gambling

August 4, 2011 4:00 PM Posted by Phil

I think we all don't want another Carnival Court/Hawaiian Marketplace, however I can see the potential of Project Linq. If it turns into a modern style New Orleans Bourbon St. type of thing with various small non- franchise restaurants with outdoor patios, perhaps live jazz or blues, it might not be bad, but like many, I don't have a lot of faith with Harrahs calling the shots. Although the uniqueness of this ferris wheel will be appealing for all age types to try out, there will certainly be children in attendance, it will be family type attraction, so I hope that Harrahs makes this project in tune with that in mind.

Last stay in Vegas I stopped by the Mirage. Standing near the BB King joint, I noticed a lot of people approaching the kid at the host/hostess stand at BB King's. I'd see a group of 2, 4....etc. talk to the host for 30 seconds and then make a u-turn. Naturally you had a gut feeling people were looking for the old Caribe Cafe or a coffee shop in general. For the helluva it, I approached the host and asked him if people ask him a lot about the Caribe. He responded that he didn't know anything about the old Caribe, but acknowledged that he gets asked at least 50 times a day about it and the people that don't approach him, just stand in front of the restaurant like they're looking for a lost dog. He said whatever that place was, it must have been good. Related to that, not surprisingly the u-turn of people still continues at the we close at 3:00 pm sign at the Terrace Point Cafe at Wynn. As a result the buffet seemed more crowded, and perhaps from a corporate dollars and cents perspective thats good, but from a customer satisfaction standpoint you're not giving them what they want.

Lastly, I'm curious why management at Paris after the first year or so of existence stopped training employees by greeting guests in French and English. Now I don't know personally for sure they stopped training their employees in this practice, but it seemed pretty obvious to me as the years passed that this little practice stopped. Now the majority of people may not give a damn this practice stopped, but to me its like if Disney stopped doing the little things they do to maintain the fantasy that place is. Certainly Paris is no Disney and they have a different audience, but it was a small way to differentiate themselves from the others. The attention to the little things and differentiation is what made Vegas great, so anyway, my 2 cents.

August 4, 2011 5:32 PM Posted by Hunter

Ah... the Caribe Cafe. I ate there many, many times and was sad to see it go. For a long time, it was my go-to, late night eats place. I don't think BB's is long for this world, given their financial condition. Hopefully Mirage will put a coffee shop concept back in that spot. I can't imagine the Caribe was doing worse than BB's is.

As for Terrace Pointe, I know a lot of Wynn customers are shocked when they discover the formerly 24 hour cafe closes at 3pm... and that's after they made the place smaller to carve out space for La Cave.

August 5, 2011 7:38 AM Posted by jinx

To Jeff's point on Linq being similar to Miracle Mile, I think that's definitely there intent, but the question has to be asked why? While I'm all for mid level shopping and dining, it's there already at Miracle Mile and most of Harrahs properties (the dining). I just don't think more is better in this case. To me it's like adding Crystals with the Forum shops already existing or Via Bellagio, too much of the same thing.

My guess is if Linq comes to fruition and is lined up with businesses like the MM, then you'll see Linq prosper and MM falter. I have a feeling though we are going to see Hawaiian Marketplace 2.0 rather then something intriguing.

August 6, 2011 3:11 PM Posted by sbpewsaw

I personally think that Linq will be a valuable addition to the Strip. It will basically gentrify what many on this blog would categorize as a blighted stretch of the functioning Strip (I don't count the graveyard of construction projects once known as the North Strip). I believe that Cosmo (and the high cost of land) has sparked a street oriented development revolution on the Strip. Cosmo has shown that strip oriented frontage can pay big dividends in terms of generating pedestrian traffic into a property. If Caesars plays its cards right and ties Linq in well with its surrounding properties, they could realistically create their own little urban center for 1/17th the price of CityCenter.

August 6, 2011 8:06 PM Posted by romaman

Here goes another example of de-theming, based on the rendering I saw of O'seas and Imperial Palace. I mean it definitely looks nicer, no doubt about that but like what MGM does with all of their former themed hotels, the new modern scheme just doesn't go with the Asian palace or Irish theme.

If the plan goes through, this would be Harrahs first time de-theming. One thing i've always respected about Harrahs over the years is that they always kept the theme in their casinos regardless of how cheesy it was. I still see those Roman soldier dudes walking around at Caesars as well as the French uniforms the employees wear at Paris. Its always been that which makes Vegas so unique.

Sorry for being off topic guys, just get pissed when another themed hotel flourishes. Sucks huh?

August 7, 2011 7:36 PM Posted by motoman

Hunter: "As for Terrace Pointe, I know a lot of Wynn customers are shocked when they discover the formerly 24 hour cafe closes at 3pm... ."

I have pleasant memories of late-night munchies there, and Zoozacrackers is no substitute. Granted, as a business decision it is clearly a better choice for those hours, being right on the casino floor as opposed to Terrace Pointe's nearly hidden location down that corridor. If both were open, and hopefully that will one day happen, I'd definitely walk the extra distance.

Phil's story about the host/greeter at BB King's reminds me: call me ignorant, but with the frequent changes of restaurants in these resorts, do the employees lose their jobs when a joint changes hands? No seniority for the existing staff? Depends if the restaurant is resort-owned or contracted? In these times, I wonder what happens to those folks.

August 8, 2011 9:44 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Detroit1051 asked me who would be the likely buyers for the Rio. There are no apparent buyers in this market. When M Resort and the Palms can be acquired at 20 cents on the dollar there won't be a meeting of the minds on a value for a property like the Rio. It throws off cash flow and has tons of land available for additional development so I think Caesars keeps it for now. If/when times improve (credit markets especially) and prospective buyers can again raise capital to purchase resorts, I think Caesars Entertainment would happily sell Rio at a fair price.

I don't see Caesars Ent. investing much at all into Rio for now, only enough to make sure revenues don't fall off a cliff.

August 9, 2011 8:33 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Regarding Jeff in OKC's suggestion about Caesars letting George Maloof take charge of the Rio (since one of the new Palms owners is a major Caesars owner), I think it is a great idea.
The properties are similar in many respects. Rio needs some TLC: New slots with better odds, better entertainment policy with reinvigorated clubs. Penn & Teller are fine but more is needed. Room product needs serious updating. Rio is much bigger and would pose a great challenge but there could be some synergy with the Palms. Both properties have tourist/locals appeal, but the Rio has lost much of its locals business under Harrah's/Caesars control. Better slot odds, better clubs and superior management might make Rio worth keeping. Excellent idea, Jeff in OKC.

August 10, 2011 9:12 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Let me go a little farther with the Maloof idea: Since Caesars has been talking about making Bill's Gambling Hall & Saloon a botique property (working with Victor Drai and the Waits brothers), they could have Maloof work his "beautiful people" magic on the property instead.
Create a special block of casinos under the Palms Resort Group, or somesuch name, and capitalize on the Palms brand and the Maloof mind. This would make Caesars more respectable if they bought locals properties such as Arizona Charlie's, since the savvy locals market despises Harrah's/Caesars and loves Maloof. Plus the Maloof/Palms brand is the only one that is a true competitor to Wynn in the day life and night life markets.
If Caesars would reward Maloof with increased points in the Palms ownership, based on performance, they would wind up with a person who would fight like Holy Hell to get his baby back, IMO.

August 12, 2011 12:03 PM Posted by Eric

In response to Phil's comment:
".....but to me its like if Disney stopped doing the little things they do to maintain the fantasy that place is. Certainly Paris is no Disney and they have a different audience, but it was a small way to differentiate themselves from the others."

I realize it's off topic, but Disney's penny-pinchers have removed a lot of those "little things" that used to make Disney a special place, different from other theme parks. There's just as much groaning about "how things used to be better" on the Disney boards and forums as there is on the Vegas ones!!! :D

(And for the record, I agree with both.)