Stardust casino soon to be just dust
By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY
By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY
LAS VEGAS — Boyd Gaming Corp. plans to tear down the old Stardust casino to make way for a $4 billion hotel and casino complex on 63 acres on the Las Vegas Strip — one of the largest such developments planned in a town known for megaresorts.
The complex, to be called Echelon Place, is scheduled to open in 2010 on the northern end of the Strip, company officials said yesterday. It will include four hotels with 5,300 guest rooms and suites, a 140,000-square-foot casino, theaters, a shopping promenade, spas and acres of convention space.
The aging Stardust billed itself as the world's largest resort hotel, with 1,032 rooms at its opening in 1958. Boyd has owned the casino since 1985.
Company executives called the move the second phase of Boyd's plan to expand into what they termed the "premier tier" of today's resort casino market.
In 2003, the company opened the posh Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., with co-owner MGM Mirage Inc. The Borgata is now the most profitable casino in Atlantic City.
"We will draw upon our highly successful Borgata experience and are committed to developing a resort destination that can be counted among the best in Las Vegas," said Bob Boughner, former chief executive at the Borgata.
Boughner has been named the president and chief executive of Echelon Resorts, the $2.9 billion, 3,300-room hotel-casino anchoring the Las Vegas Strip project. It will contain two hotels, 24 restaurants and bars, and a 140,000-square-foot casino.
Boyd plans to collaborate with several corporate partners to develop smaller hotels on the site, executives said. Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts would operate one 400-room luxury hotel and spa.
Boyd also plans a 50-50 joint venture with New York-based Morgans Hotel Group to develop two other hotels on the site. Boughner said the new Delano Hotel Las Vegas and Mondrian Hotel Las Vegas will be modeled on Morgans counterparts in South Beach, Fla., and Los Angeles, respectively.
Boyd will contribute 6.5 acres of land for the hotels and Morgans will put up $97.5 million in cash, Boyd executives said.
The deal's financing appears to be strong and its choice of hotel partners could cater to the much coveted younger, richer demographic, said John Mulkey, a gambling analyst with Wachovia Securities of New York.
"The hotel brands should add a lot of buzz in Las Vegas and fill a niche," Mulkey said.
Absent from Boyd's plans for the new megaresort were high-rise condominiums, the current development craze in Las Vegas.
In recent months, analysts have worried that high construction costs and slow sales are curbing high-rise momentum.