Fontainebleau Casino Owner Throws Light and Optimism about Planned 2020 Launch

A poster child of the Las Vegas Great Recession crash and burn, the unfinished Fontainebleau casino resort is now expected to bring life to an underdeveloped but what investors consider a very promising section of the Strip.

The property’s owner, real estate developer Steven Witkoff, provided this weekend updates on the ambitious project for the completion and planned 2020 launch of the complex. Mr. Witkoff participated in an event at the Southpoint Casino over the weekend. Tax reform was the main focus of the event, which was also attended by US President Donald Trump, a former casino owner himself.

Mr. Witkoff said that the Trump administration’s tax incentives were one of the factors that contributed to his decision to purchase Fontainebleau and hopefully turn it into a successful operation.

Construction work on the property is planned to begin next July. It is believed that the hotel and casino resort will be ready to swing its doors open in 2020 after more than 13 years of on-and-off planning about its eventual launch.

The plan for Fontainebleau Las Vegas was originally announced in the spring of 2005 and construction was expected to begin in 2006. The property was supposed to become operational by 2008. After certain delays, construction eventually began in February 2007 but was stopped two years later. The property has remained unfinished since then.

Mr. Witkoff and his Witkoff Group bought Fontainebleau last summer together with investment firm New Valley LLC for $600 million. The businessman has previously said that the property was so well-conceived that they would be able to both materialize its original concept and place their own imprint from a design point of view.

The Drew Las Vegas

Mr. Witkoff announced earlier this year that Fontainebleau will be renamed as The Drew Las Vegas. The property is located in the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The area had not seen that much of casino resort development activity in the past, but that has changed rapidly as, aside from the Fontainebleau project, Malaysia casino and hospitality giant Genting Group is building its Asia-themed Resorts World Las Vegas not far from Mr. Witkoff’s property. Genting’s own resort is, too, slated to open doors in 2020.

The businessman said during this weekend’s event that construction on The Drew would create 3,500 jobs. More than 7,000 jobs are expected to be generated once construction is complete, he added, receiving applause for his ambitious plan.

Under original ideas, the property was also planned to feature a massive convention facility, which analysts believe is part of Mr. Witkoff’s plan, as well. The Drew is expected to offer several dozens of food and beverage and retail facilities, among others, once fully operational. The amount of $3 billion will be invested in the project, The Drew’s owner pointed out this weekend.

International hospitality powerhouse Marriott will operate all three hotels at the property. The Drew will have a total of nearly 4,000 hotel rooms.

President Trump said he believed in the project’s success under Mr. Witkoff’s leadership. The nation’s top official himself said that he had once considered buying Fontainebleau.

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