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Las Vegas' new US$3.1b resort delayed by over a year

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The 3,780-room resort will feature a giant pool, with restaurants and shops adjacent.

Los Angeles

AMERICAN real estate mogul Steven Witkoff is pushing back the opening of a US$3.1 billion resort on the Las Vegas Strip by more than a year, slowing efforts to complete a partly built casino that was abandoned during the financial crisis a decade ago.

The Drew Las Vegas, as the project is called, will open in the second quarter of 2022, he said in an interview. The project was originally scheduled to debut in late-2020. By delaying, Mr Witkoff said he will have more certainty about his construction budget.

The 62-year-old Mr Witkoff bought the unfinished Fontainebleau resort from billionaire investor Carl Icahn for US$600 million two years ago. The 3,780-room resort will feature a giant pool, with restaurants and shops adjacent.

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It is located on the north end of the Strip, on the same side of the street as the Wynn Las Vegas and near the city's convention centre, which will be a big draw, Mr Witkoff said.

The resort is affiliated with hotel giant Marriott International, which doesn't have a big presence in one of America's busiest tourist cities. It will target high-end clients who might normally visit the Bellagio or Caesars Palace.

The architecture firm of Diller Scofidio & Renfro, whose work includes the High Line in New York and the Broad museum in Los Angeles, will lead a design effort creating something "cool, elegant, edgy', according to Mr Witkoff.

It will emphasise non-gambling amenities more than craps tables, reflecting the growing popularity of Las Vegas with visitors who come as much for the dining and nightlife as the gambling.

"The market has not seen new build to address who the new customer is,'' he added.

The Drew is designed to be easy to navigate, with 32 guest elevators situated right next to the front desk and a circular design for the shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.

"When you build a great campus, you don't want people migrating off your campus - and we'll build a great campus,'' he said.

While many Las Vegas operators have remodelled or renamed their hotels, a major new resort hasn't opened since the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas in 2010. The previous developer of the Drew site, Miami's Jeffrey Soffer, spent US$2.8 billion before putting the project into bankruptcy. Witkoff said he had existing financing from JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. BLOOMBERG