Ask: Whats being Built behind The Linq?

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New construction coming!  As we like to say, Las Vegas is always reinventing itself.  As Caesars comes out of their bankruptcy with money and land to spare, they decided to take that large parking lot behind the Linq Promenade / High Roller Observation Wheel for what is to be called Caesars Forum.  A new 500,000 square foot convention space and meeting center.  They plan to break ground later this year and to have it open and operating by 2020.

Caesars Forum Design


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CAESARS FORUM will offer:

  • 300,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, including two pillarless 108,000 sq. ft. ballrooms, two 40,000 sq. ft. ballrooms and state-of-the-art boardrooms
  • Conference space able to accommodate more than 10,000 attendees
  • A 100,000 sq. ft. outdoor plaza, which can be used as flexible space for cocktail receptions, wellness breaks, or breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • Direct access to the LINQ Promenade with dining, live entertainment venues, shopping, and the High Roller observation wheel
  • Direct access to Harrah’s Las Vegas, The LINQ Hotel and Flamingo Las Vegas hotels, totaling more than 8,500 hotel rooms
  • Accessibility to approximately 20,000 rooms at Caesars Entertainment’s nine Las Vegas properties
  • The latest in technology and modern design

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When It Rains in Las Vegas!

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It may come to a surprise for some, but we do get rain in Las Vegas!! On a normal year, it will be between 4 to 5 inches and most of it will fall during one of two Monsoon seasons. One in Spring and the other in the fall.  Each lasting about a week.

Yesterday – Mother Nature decided that she wanted something different to start the new year. So she dumped 1.3 inches of rain on the Las Vegas Valley!  Making this the wettest January on record and making a mess of the valley while creating another spectacular river through the Linq Resort parking garage.

This was an interesting way to start the opening day of the CES Convention.  The consumer technology convention is the largest convention held in Las Vegas and this is what greeted the attendees on opening day!
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Happens Every Time

The Linq started out as the Imperial Palace and was built on top of the Flamingo Wash area.  The lowest point on the Las Vegas Strip and the Clark County flood channel is behind the parking garage.  So when it rains, all that water running down the Strip find its way into the garage before entering the channel.  The water, mixed with the waters of the rest of the flood channels around Clark County, eventually runs into Lake Mead.

So this is nothing new and is a popular place to get video of the floods.  The black lines on the poles indicate the high watermarks of previous floods.  The metal wall seen in the beginning are lock and dam style walls they slide into place to prevent the water from entering the hotel structures.

The hotel was built for this and no damage is done to the resort. The driveway reopens shortly after the rains stop and they clean up the mess left by the rushing waters!

The larger problem around Las Vegas that turns driving during a rainstorm, is that most of the Valley sits on a crust of Caliche, a natural cement rock material that makes water absorption almost impossible and since we only get rain a few days a year, we tend to build the roads to the curvature of the earth.  Drivers here forget or have never noticed the dips in the roads until it rains and they try to drive through them.  Only to learn their car doesn’t float and they get stranded.

So we get a lot of road closures and the local news is filled with stories, videos, and photos of rescues of drivers ignoring the signs and overhead freeway displays warning of impending floods, standing on top of their sunken vehicles in the middle of a flooded intersection, waiting for a rescue. Not to mention that the rainwater cools the pavement and draws the oil out of the asphalt.  Creating a desert version of what we former snow dwellers call “Black Ice” the roadway is like a sheet of ice you can’t really see until you are on top of it spinning out of control.

I know, slowing down your speed during a rainstorm would help, but drivers around here don’t know how to do that! Besides, what fun would that be?


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Ask: The Big Wheel Before The Linq | Video


Some people have asked: just what those two concrete poles are that sitting in that dirt lot across from the Mandalay Bay Resort?

Ask The Vegas Tourist

Those are the remains of what was supposed to be “Skyvue”.  A hotel resort and entertainment complex that was to be anchored by a 500-foot  big wheel type of a ride. The Big Wheel was not only going to be the world’s largest observation wheel, but it was also going to be the largest LED advertising sign as well.

SkyVue is the first phase of a larger 3-phase project—London, Las Vegas. As its name aptly suggests, London, Las Vegas combines the same excitement and sophistication of Europe’s most prestigious city, with all the thrills of the entertainment capital of the world.
The entire, 3-phase project uses London, England as its design inspiration. When completed, the 38.5-acre property will feature 1,300 hotel rooms, a casino, a 500-foot-tall observation wheel, and 550,000 square feet of restaurants and shops—all of which will be architectural replicas of various British landmarks and neighborhoods.

Phase I of London, Las Vegas—SkyVue—is comprised of the construction, management, and operation of a 500-foot-high observation wheel, including 122,000 square feet of LED advertising signage and approximately 550,000 square feet of retail space with more than 600 feet of frontage on the Las Vegas Strip.

Yea, you know where this is going, don’t you??
The ironic thing is that all this happened long after the worldwide and Las Vegas economic meltdown.  This was proposed and started to break ground in 2011.  People were still not confident in the Las Vegas real estate market.  The project went overseas looking for money by getting it designated as an EB-5 project.  “EB-5 provides 10,000 foreign nationals annually the opportunity to obtain permanent residency (a green card) by investing in the U.S. economy and creating jobs.”

Skyvue Las Vegas is for sale

The developers seemed to be chasing money and needed to prove they really were going to build. So as they got some investment money, they would work on the project until they ran out of funds instead of waiting to get all of the financings first. Thus, two poles and a big hole is all the farther they got

What finally killed the project?

As the poles were being built in May of 2012 and the developers still hustling for money and getting semi-favorable media coverage, Caesars Entertainment robbed the spotlight with the announcement of their “Big Wheel” to be built near center Strip.  Yes, Caesars was deep in debt, but they still could be counted on to finish a project they started.  So if you were an investor, where would you put your money?  On a project with shaky financials and was located at the south end of the Strip?  Or one that had a track record and a better position for attracting tourists?  The Skyvue project was toast.

So if you were an investor, where would you put your money?  On a project with shaky financials and was located at the south end of the Strip?  Or one that had a track record and a better position for attracting tourists?  We know the answer.  The Skyvue project was toast.

January 2014, The Linq Entertainment District opened for business along with the Worlds Largest Observation Wheel.  In mid-2015, the Skyvue land was put on the market for an undisclosed price.

> Questions About Las Vegas? Ask The Vegas Tourist

In-n-Out on the Strip

Just in case you didn’t know it, the new In-n-Out Burger opened up in the LINQ Promenade.  Just in the shadows of the observation Wheel.  This is the 13th restaurant in Las Vegas and the only one that is a pedestrian-only destination.  Actually, it is only the 2nd such store in the entire chain that is built to be pedestrian only. The other one is at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco!

It is 5,000 square feet of Hamburger Goodness with an outdoor patio dining to help with the people watching around the big wheel.  Plus a mini store kiosk so you can get your fix with In-n-Out bling.

If you go there and want to be one of the “cool tourists”  you need to order off their not so secret menu and make yourself sound like an aficionado. Here is that link>>  In-n-Out Not so Secret  – Don’t worry, ordering is real easy.  They have cheeseburger, hamburger and fresh cut french fries (they cut them right there).  That’s it.  No salads, no vegi-vegan-ala cart… It’s burgers, fries and a drink plus awesome chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shakes.

You may be asking how can such a place exist in today’s healthy living society?  Look at the name… It’s there.  You go in, you order, you get out…  McDonald’s has been wanting to buy this family owned, 67-year-old burger chain for decades and they just won’t sell!!

So now you don’t have to take a cab to the one on Tropicana and the I15.  It’s right there it the middle of it all…

Go. Now. Enjoy!

Two Vegas Monuments For Sale

Apparently the Las Vegas real estate market has bounced back to make deals on the Strip profitable again. Two relics or monuments, depending on how you want to look at the, from the “Vegas Era of Greed” are for sale at a price that makes you scratch your head and wondering if they were serious. . The ironic thing is that they bookend the Las Vegas Strip perfectly. At the north end, we have Fontainebleau. At the south end, we have the Skyvue Observation wheel poles.

Both projects were once thriving beehives of workers and construction traffic with the never-ending promise of more jobs, more profits, and more people.  Now all they are, are empty skeletons that were stalled when the economy collapsed and the banks and builders decided to start cashing in all that phony paper they had acquired that they thought were backed by something of value. Oops!

Fountainbleau is sold, so what about the hole?

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The Big Blue Silo

Originally known as Fontainebleau, I call it the Big Blue Silo because that is what it is!  It’s just sitting there like a Big, Blue, empty silo.  Investors put just about $3 billion into the project and it was 80% complete before they realized they had no more money.  So they put the locks on it and walked away.  At the bankruptcy auction in 2009, Carl Icahn snapped it up for $150 million cash.  Cash was the only thing the bankruptcy judge would allow and only one other bidder had real cash in the bank.  He sold all the furniture and other valuables to other properties and has let it sit there ever since.

If there is one reason to point to and say why the neighboring SLS is failing,  I would have to say next to incompetent management, it would be the Fountainblue is to blame.  Think about it: The SLS (formerly the Sahara) is catering to the Hollywood elite at $400 a night and offering them a boutique luxury resort experience on the famous Las Vegas Strip.

In reality, you look out your window and you see the Stratosphere to the north and this to the south. Would you pay $400 a night to have a view of this??

Now his people think they can get $600 million for it all. Good Luck.

The Fontainebleau presents a huge opportunity for potential buyers — literally. It was originally designed to hold more than 2,800 hotel rooms and suites, about 930 condominiums, 300,000 square feet of retail, 543,000 square feet of meeting space, 155,000 square feet of gaming space and a 3,200-seat theater, according to its listing agent CBRE.


Skyvue Observation wheel


The Wheel Will Turn!

The Skyvue Observation wheel This one was publicly doomed from the moment real estate investor Howard Bulloch announced it.  Admitting he was not “fully” funded and that he was seeking additional investors as the project moved onward.  But somehow he found people as the markets started to crash. People willing to believe that Vegas was indeed immune from collapse and a giant observation wheel and shopping experience could boom at the very south end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Then again, maybe he and his fellow investors were being overly optimistic and hoping that the rumors of Harrah’s (now Caesars) doing the same thing would result in a huge buyout.  Not taking into account that Caesars was only $18 billion in debt at that moment.  Not the $24 billion they are now.

He had the hustle, I will admit that. As ground broke and dirt moved, the economy around him collapsed, he went looking for the gold (or the fool with the gold).  As others gave up and walked away from their projects, he kept looking and found people to buy into his dream.  It started, it stopped, it started then it stopped and nothing for the last three years.

Sources say they are looking at $10 million an acre or $385 million for the 38.5-acre site.  That’s about what land is selling for mid-strip. The Frontier site and around there maybe.  But a little too high for the far south end with no real view and with any airport restrictions, that will be a tough sell.

The Vegas Hustle

So now you may be wondering how we got these two monuments there.  The easy answer was that they were at the end of the very long line of flippers and hustlers.  The unfortunate ones who joined in the boom at the end and never saw the cliff they were standing on the edge of.

From the mid-1980s until 2009, Vegas was booming.  I mean really booming.  I used to somewhat joke that you could buy a piece of property on Monday and flip it for twice what you paid for it before the check ever cleared the bank on Friday.  It happened!  In reality, there really wasn’t much cash running through all these projects. It was all paper.  Financed debt. A lot of it and it was moving fast.

Almost every week some scammer or hustler had a press conference about some project they were going to build on the Strip or near the tourist corridor. It was going to be bigger and better and fancier than the last one.  They had the charts and the paintings and the smiles.  Often times they got the building permits and zoning approvals with just a plan sketched out on a napkin because they knew once they made it public, someone else was right there willing to buy it from them at a profit.

Nobody asked the basic questions. Do you have a plan?  Do you have all the financing? Do the property owners know you want to do this?  (occasionally the answer would have been “No”) Or maybe the honest question should have been “Are you serious or is this a ploy to make the land more valuable to sell before you even break ground”  And that answer would usually have been a loud “Hell Yes!”