Fontainebleau one step closer to opening after Gaming Control Board approval
Nearly two decades after drawing up the initial plans for the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, developer Jeffrey Soffer is one approval away from seeing his dream come to fruition.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday recommended licensing approval for the 3,700-room North Strip hotel-casino that first began construction in 2007, only to be mothballed by myriad financial issues. If the Nevada Gaming Commission signs off on the project during its Nov. 16 meeting, the Fontainebleau will open on Dec. 13.
Soffer, the Miami-based chairman of Fontainebleau Development, reacquired the project in 2021 with plans to complete the property, long considered a linchpin in boosting business prospects on the north end of the Strip. In December 2022, Fontainebleau developers announced they had obtained $2.2 billion in financing to finish the project.
The property was roughly 70 percent complete when it lost its funding in June 2009, and Soffer walked away. Over the next dozen years, the unfinished building saw two different ownership groups, including corporate raider Carl Icahn and New York developer Steve Witkoff, who planned to rename the building The Drew. The development stalled due to the pandemic.
The Fontainebleau saw little progress until Soffer reacquired the property in partnership with Koch Real Estate Investments.
“When we picked it up, everything we had done previously was the same,” Soffer said after the hearing in Las Vegas. “Nobody had ever touched it. We had to start over, we made some changes to the property. Everyone is going to be very happy with the product. It's going to bring Las Vegas to another level.”
Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick agreed with Soffer that the project could help rejuvenate that area of the Strip before the board unanimously recommended approval for the hotel-casino following a 30-minute hearing.
Soffer and Fontainebleau Development CEO Brett Mufson were found suitable to operate in the state by state gaming regulators in July.
Fontainebleau Las Vegas President Mark Tricano said the resort will employ 7,100 workers and that 80 percent had been hired.
The property will have a 150,000-square-foot casino with 1,300 slot machines and 128 table games and spaces for 36 restaurants. The casino will include more than 18,000 square feet of high-limit gaming spaces, including a slot area with 105 games and a private gaming salon with three table games — blackjack, baccarat and European roulette.
Red Rock Resorts was also recommended for approval to provide the technology platform, oddsmaking services and risk management to operate Fontainebleau’s 14,000-square-foot race and sportsbook, although the location will not carry the STN Sports brand and the staff will be Fontainebleau employees.
Fontainebleau will also have a poolside gaming area.
Fontainebleau’s 67-story hotel tower contains 3,644 rooms and suites. Unlike other Strip operators that partner with hotel companies such as Hilton and Marriott, Fontainebleau Development will solely operate the hotel.
Situated on 25 acres, Fontainebleau is using every available square foot of land. The 6.5-acre outdoor pool deck sits atop low-rise portions of the building. The space has seven pool areas and an outdoor terrace for special events.
The 550,000-square-foot conference center is located three levels above the hotel-casino’s parking garage. Fontainebleau officials hope to eventually build a connection linking the property to the West Hall of the neighboring Las Vegas Convention Center. The West Hall didn’t exist in 2009 when construction halted.
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