The abandoned project needs love, could it come from cannabis?
It’s been abandoned for nearly a decade, the 68-story eyesore Fontainebleau casino/hotel/condo site located on the north end of the strip. Being the second tallest building in Sin City, it’s hard to miss. Unfortunately, no one’s been a buyer for this project that went bankrupt in 2009. Though now that cannabis is legal in the state, it could offer entrepreneurs a prime business location.
The Hauntingly Bad Luck of Fontainebleau
The site was originally home to the El Rancho Hotel and Casino that operated from 1948-1992. Once it closed, it stayed abandoned for eight years until it was finally demolished in 2000. Plans for a London-themed resort were underway, but never emerged due to economic factors after the September 11th attacks.
A piece of land next to El Rancho’s old site also suffered, where once the Algiers Hotel stood. A condo project dubbed Krystle Sands was supposed to replace Algiers Hotel, but alas, it was canceled like the London-themed resort. However, both pieces of land were purchased by Fontainebleau Resorts & Turnberry Associates (sister companies) and in 2005, they announced they’d be engineering a 4,000 room hotel & casino.
February of 2007 saw the building’s beginning. August of that year, a construction worker died from falling 30-feet. Only days later, a concrete slab fell and broke two more beneath, with no one injured thankfully. Residents began complaining about the potential increase in traffic and pollution the building would create.
In June of 2009, Fontainebleau Las Vegas LLC filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The project ended, and it’s been sitting on the north strip untouched by any buyers.
The Potential of the Fontainebleau Building
In the summer of 2016, the asking price for Fontainebleau was $650 million, with a projected 1 billion worth of work still needed for its finish (possibly more factoring in damage to the site). If any industry could afford to pay off such a hefty price, it’s most certainly the cannabis industry.
Apparently, the current owner, Carl Icahn, is going to be spending about $500,000 on a wrap to place around the abandoned building’s bottom three floors to help make it less of an eyesore. Construction on this has just recently begun. But why now? Why, right after cannabis was legalized on a recreational level, does the owner decide to give the building a face-lift?
The final blueprints for the Fontainebleau included 2,871 hotel rooms, 1,018 condos, 24 restaurants and lounges, 95,000 sq ft of casino, 60,000 sq ft of spa, and 180,000 sq ft of retail space. Not to mention the night clubs and 3,300-seat performing arts theater. There’s a great deal of potential for this building if the right buyer knows how to incorporate the newly legalized substance into it’s business foundation.
Such a building could fuel the progression of cannabis policies. Tourists want to smoke in night clubs, in their hotel rooms (or have designated balconies/lounges on their floor), at the bars, on the casino floor… This would require first the legal actions necessary, but also a new way of managing a hotel resort that’s friendly to the plant’s presence.
Who’s to say perhaps several cannabis companies team up and turn it into the New Amsterdam Resort that America’s been waiting for?