LAS VEGAS — The nearly built but never finished Fontainebleau casino-hotel high-rise is getting covered up to spruce up the view on the Las Vegas Strip.
A Clark County commissioner turned a relatively routine request for an off-site improvement bond extension into an opportunity to compel the property’s owner to cover up part of the unsightly construction site that has been visible for several years, rising 63-stories above the Strip.
“I’m trying to at least beautify,” said Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (joon-kihl-ee-AH’-nee). The focus of the latest fix “is really that gaping hole that faces Las Vegas Boulevard.”
Construction on the 3,900-room property stopped in 2009. A year later, billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought the $2.9 billion development out of bankruptcy for $150 million.
The county inspects the site once a month, and there are no structural issues, Giunchigliani said.
“It really is in very good shape,” she said. On a single finished floor, “it looks beautiful inside. Not a crack no flaws.”
But outside, the site is in need of some cosmetic enhancement, and Giunchigliani said the deal for the fix was a year in the making.
Other under-construction properties along the Strip have agreed to cover up unsightliness, including The Venetian, which covered up a tower that was never finished, and Boyd Gaming Corp., which sold its Echelon project to the Genting Group before it needed to cover up that site.
If she and other commissioners had voted down the extension, the company would have lost access to the bond money already set aside and the county could have started making off-site improvements to the public areas around the site itself.
“I think they realized I was serious,” she said.
County commissioners voted Wednesday to approve the extension, and the company agreed to submit plans in 90 days to cover up the first three floors of the structure on the side facing the Strip and fix it within six months.
The company had already sought and received an extension for its off-site improvement bond five times since 2008, and the county’s public works department denied its latest request in June 2014.
“Staff believes the developer has had sufficient time to complete the project,” the staff report for Wednesday’s county meeting said.
Icahn NV Gaming Acquisition LLC said the economic timing still wasn’t right to finish the casino-hotel.
Giunchigliani agreed, adding that now wouldn’t be the time to “swamp that corner with too many rooms,” considering the sprawling Resorts World project and Alon Las Vegas casino-resort are expected to open by 2018.