VEGAS, Nevada - In the film "Ocean's Eleven,"
George Clooney robbed a casino. Now he's going to build
one.Clooney, nightclub owner Rande Gerber and two Las
Vegas real estate companies today will announce plans
to construct a casino, boutique hotel and sprawling condominium
project on Harmon Avenue, just blocks from the Strip,
in an area that has become one of the town's hottest development
won't be a resort for the tank top, shorts and fanny-pack
crowd that plies the sidewalks of Las Vegas Boulevard
to gape at the volcano, pirate ships and lions that are
used to lure visitors to the Strip casinos, the actor
have this romantic notion of a place where you put on
a jacket or a dress to go to dinner," said Clooney,
44. "We will have some sort of dress code so that
it will feel like you are walking into a more formal Las
Vegas of a different age or a classic Monte Carlo casino."
Clooney will be working with joint-venture partners Related
Las Vegas and Centra Properties, both experienced developers,
he acknowledged that he had no true expertise in developing
sophisticated hotels. But the actor noted that over the
years he had stayed in some posh properties and that he
owned a villa on Lake Como in Italy.
may be the novice of this group," Clooney said, "but
I have a good idea of what I like in Las Vegas, and it
is all about class."
300-room hotel will be the centerpiece of a $3-billion,
25-acre project on Harmon Avenue just west of the Hard
Rock Hotel & Casino. The Spanish-themed Las Ramblas
development will take shape on a section of Harmon that
is about to be transformed by massive investment in high-profile
week, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and
developer Edge Resorts announced plans to build a $1.7-billion
hotel and condominium complex on a 21-acre Harmon parcel
just west of Las Ramblas. To the east, Hard Rock plans
$1.2 billion of construction, including 800 condominium-hotel
units, 400 residential units, dozens of bungalows, restaurants
on Harmon, MGM Mirage and Turnberry Associates are in
the middle of a $1-billion venture building 1,727 condo-hotel
units. And where Harmon intersects the Strip, MGM Mirage
plans its $4.7-billion Project CityCenter, with a 4,000-room
casino-resort, three smaller hotels, a 550,000-square-foot
shopping complex and 1,650 condo units.
are seeing the development of a perpendicular Strip,"
said Reagan Silber, one of Edge Resorts' partners. "There
is easily more than $10 billion of development planned
for this area."
the so-called Harmon Avenue Corridor east of Interstate
15 develops into a full-fledged "Striplet" is
a matter of debate among Vegas cognoscenti. But what is
clear, said veteran developer Steve Molasky, is that the
traditional Strip is bulging east and west.
in this area is going to turn over for development,"
said Molasky, who is completing plans to build a hotelcasino
resort on Flamingo Road that will back up to several of
the Harmon Avenue projects.
has sent property values along the side streets close
to the Strip soaring to levels seen for prime Las Vegas
Boulevard real estate as recently as two years ago, said
James Stuart, co-founder of Centra. His group, for example,
paid $83.7 million - or $3.3 million an acre - to assemble
the Las Ramblas parcel in March. Edge Resorts assembled
the Starwood development parcel from December to March,
paying $108.2 million, or about $5.1 million an acre,
for the real estate.
announcement of the Las Ramblas project, which will include
the hotel, 1,326 condo-hotel units and 2,764 residential
condos when it is built out, comes amid a boom in high-rise
condominium construction in Las Vegas. The hotel will
be built as part of one of the condo towers. That building
and three additional towers at Las Ramblas are scheduled
to open in 2008.
several developers in town have cut sweetheart deals with
Hollywood celebrities for units in their high-rise condo
projects, Clooney and Gerber say they are "significant
investors" in the Las Ramblas development. Stuart
said their commitment would run to "tens of millions
of dollars," but none of the parties provided more
details. Moreover, the pair is taking an active role in
design and business decisions, Stuart said.
idea of actually owning a casino came out of conversations
between Clooney and Gerber when the actor was staying
at the Bellagio filming "Ocean's Eleven," which
came out in 2001. Clooney said the friends thought it
would be "cool" to own something like the Bellagio,
although much smaller and tailored to their own tastes.
friends prepared a presentation and talked with Las Vegas
Sands Corp., owner of the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino,
and a second, unnamed casino company.
was interested, but it seemed like our hotel would end
up as just an amenity in a 4,000-room resort. It wouldn't
really be ours," said Gerber, who with his brother,
Scott, developed the Whiskey Bar chain of nightspots.
however, knew some of the Related executives because they
worked in the Time Warner Center in New York, where he
owned the Stone Rose bar.
would come into the bar, so I just called them up,"
said Gerber, husband of model Cindy Crawford.
turned out that Related was trolling for Las Vegas projects,
and after months of negotiations signed Clooney and Gerber
to the deal. The two believed that the Related-Centra
venture would give them more freedom to shape their vision
of what a five-star Las Vegas hotel and casino should
don't know that I will make a dime on any of this. I could
lose my shirt," Clooney said. "But it will be
a big adventure."