Las Vegas Tourism Agency Puts Former Riviera Property On The Market

The North end of the Las Vegas Strip hasn’t done particularly well over the past decade. In fact, the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Flamingo and Sahara was ground zero for the implosion of the city’s commercial real estate market. The former Stardust site sat vacant for years–originally slated for a mega-resort called ‘Echelon’ the weak economic conditions forced Boyd Gaming to ‘fold their hand’ and focus their efforts elsewhere. The Fountainbleau Hotel and Casino sat unfinished for years providing a ghostly presence to the deteriorating block. The Riviera closed and was imploded while the Sahara closed and was remodeled–and rebranded.

It’s been a long time coming but there are hopeful signs for the North Strip. The 3,400 room Resorts World Las Vegas is showing considerable progress and its now slated for a 2020 opening. Sure, it was originally supposed to open in 2016 but better late than never. The former Fountainbleu property was bought by New York real estate developer Steve Witkoff. He’s partnering with hotel corporation Marriott International to open the long monthballed property in late 2020 with the new name ‘The Drew Las Vegas’. These big properties–along with an expanded Las Vegas Convention Center–is fueling hopes that the North Strip might soon become a viable part of the city’s casino economy.

These positive signs are no doubt why the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has decided the time is right to put some property up for sale. They’ve hired real estate brokerage firm CBRE Group to sell a 10 acre parcel on the former Riviera Hotel and Casino site. The LVCVA bought the Riviera in 2015 for $182.5 million. It had no interest in getting involved in the casino business, instead they wanted the 26 acres of land to expand the convention center.

The LVCVA’s parcel is located at the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Elvis Presley Boulevard. It was originally slated for outdoor convention and exhibit space but the group has changed their plans after purchasing additional property along Convention Center Drive last year. This parcel is closer to the actual Convention Center and now the land on the former Rivera site is expendable. Vacant land has never been an especially hot commodity on the Strip–even during the boom years. That didn’t stop LVCA President and CEO Steve Hill from speculating in a press release that the 10 acres “provide exceptional opportunity for the right visionary.”

Brokerage firm CBRE has so far been vague about their plan to package the property, saying only that they would shop it around to developers as the ‘gateway’ to a bigger and better convention center. Presumably, the hope is to use it for restaurant and retail space. There’s no estimate on the price the property could attract though LVCA’s Hill said that “It may be the most valuable piece of property that a government agency has ever sold.”

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on gambling theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice.