Building Boom Off the Strip

Several projects, including a Ritz-Carlton, are poised to bring in the overflow

By: Kathy Espin

The Strip drew all the action in the ‘90s: new resorts, over-the-top displays, lots of construction cranes. But since Paris Las Vegas opened in September 1999, the heat has moved on.

Now all the construction is off the Strip, even as far as the outer reaches of Las Vegas Valley.

In January, the Cannery Hotel Casino opened in North Las Vegas, a suburb near Nellis Air Force Base and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 1940s-themed locals’ hangout includes 200 rooms, the requisite number for a gambling license in Nevada.

And the Tuscany, an off-Strip hotel on East Flamingo Road, added a casino to its 716 rooms, hoping to attract drop-in traffic from the nearby McCarran International Airport, overflow from the Strip and locals from the surrounding residential area.

But the biggest news is the Ritz-Carlton, scheduled to open this month at Lake Las Vegas, a self-contained resort and super-high-end residential community built on a man-made lake at the far edge of Henderson. A casino is being built on an adjacent property.

There are two reasons that new construction is moving to the outer reaches of the valley, according to Richard Lee, vice president and public relations director at First American Title of Las Vegas.

“One is the success of the local resorts and the success of two companies: Stations Inc. and Coast Resorts,” said Lee, an authority on Vegas development trends. Station Casinos Inc. built Green Valley Ranch and owns nine other properties catering to valley residents. Coast Resorts owns the Barbary Coast on the Strip and three off-Strip properties, all local favorites.

The other reason, Lee said, is the city’s phenomenal growth. For years Las Vegas has been a fixture on every list of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 people move here each month and, Lee stressed, many of them are retirees with limited money and lots of free time.

“The local casinos have become a very important part of our recreation. We go to the local resorts because of the movies and the food and the entertainment,” he said. “A lot of locals are drawn to these resorts because of the low cost.”

The formula that makes the off-Strip casinos so popular with locals also can make them a hit with out-of-state visitors. Good food at reasonable prices plus higher pay-off percentages on slot machines make an attractive package for visitors who aren’t interested in the glitz and glamour of the Strip. Plus, room rates are generally less the farther you go from the Strip.

In the future, Lee said, more resorts will be built on the extreme southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard, past McCarran Airport. More casinos will be built in outlying residential communities and each will have at least 200 hotel rooms to get a full-service license.

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