Las Vegas Real Estate
Stiffs & Georges
They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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They burned the Monte Carlo ... and may get away with it
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Saying that a potentially ruptured pipe could drain Lake Las Vegas and turn it into one big-ass mud puddle in the desert conjures up quite an image. It's also effective rhetoric if you're trying to stampede the bankruptcy court into approving a $127 million loan, no questions asked (or at least answered). If asked to make a bet, I'd place my wager with the Nevada state engineer who puts the chances of a big sucking sound at Lake Las Vegas "way out there." (The big sucking sound that is the resort community's financial future is another matter entirely.)
And, if it does happen, the first thought that sprang to my mind was the same one that Steve Friess had, namely that the A-list likes of Celine Dion and Natalie Gulbis won't be any too thrilled "to live around a big, smelly pit full of stuff that reckless boaters have been pitching overboard for years." Heck, I tried wading out there recently and the lake water is pretty dodgy as it is.
Lake LV is starting to look like the second coming of The Resort at Summerlin, which some may remember as Swiss Casinos' vastly overbudgeted venture into the suburban Vegas market. (Its casino is now managed by the Cannery Resorts folks.) Problems like excessive cost and executive hubris aside, R@S failed in large part because it tried to create a market out of thin air: Palm Springs-style golf vacations which would involve coming to Vegas but staying well away from the Strip. As a business model, it didn't live up the hype.
I've held off saying this for a long time, but Lake LV displays some of the same symptoms. It's too close to the Strip to qualify as a getaway and yet far enough away to make it a real hassle if you want to stay out there and yet still experience Sin City at its finest. (The jury's still out on whether similar factors will dampen Red Rock Resort's high-end aspirations, making it "just" an extremely swanky locals casino with fantastic meeting facilities.)
Not to put too fine a point on it: It's a pain in the ass to get to Lake LV and some of that appears to be literally by design. Its landscaping and narrow, winding approach connote exclusivity, as does much else there (like the flighty retail offerings). You half-expect snipers hidden in the rocks to pick off vehicles deemed insufficiently chi-chi. So the local market is unlikely to embrace or even have much use for it. After all, you'd have to be a mighty hardcore player to drive all the way out to Casino MonteLago (above) when it entails bypassing numerous gambling options, including Fiesta Henderson, to get there.
Palms Springs is Palm Springs in large part because it is isolated. You couldn't achieve something like that, say, just 17 miles outside of San Diego. Same with Lake LV, R@S, etc. Being simultaneously of and yet slightly away from Las Vegas isn't working out so far. Lake LV wants to be a tourist magnet and a hideout for the super-rich, but having it both ways is proving a tightrope act without a net -- or maybe just without a lake, if that pipe doesn't hold.
Penitentiary Station. Did you know that inmates at the Nevada State Prison (the former site of the Warm Springs Hotel) used to be allowed to gamble? It's true (see sidebar). Then some spoilsport went and outlawed it in 1967.
Now, it seems to me that with the state facing a revenue crunch and a governor who'd rather close prisons than raise taxes, that our lawmakers have been overlooking an opportunity: Bring back the craps games in the Big House! Heck, throw in some slots while you're at it. Make the holds real tight, too, because it's not like your customer base can take its business elsewhere.
Besides, it might shut up all those soreheads who write to the newspaper to complain that prisoners get paid to make license plates, etc., instead of being used as slave labor or as fodder for medical experiments. Convicts' wages would just be going right back into the state treasury -- after United Coin or whomever takes its cut, of course. Maybe it'd be the business opportunity that snaps slot-route operator Herbst Gaming out of its doldrums. Why, it's a state/private sector win-win!
And I thought my cats were heavy. You could put my threesome on the scale together and they'd still be outweighed by 44-lb. Princess Chunk, found "waddling around" Voorhees, N.J., last weekend. Sounds like some feral cats -- well, one anyway -- have been eating even better than ones who have a predictable source of food and three squares a day.