Las Vegas Strip could become hot property again

Vegas 1Las Vegas Review Journal – The idea of Strip real estate carrying a value of $30 million an acre or more has come and gone. This month’s sale of the former New Frontier site — once the Strip’s most expensive piece of real estate — is giving market speculators new hope that resort corridor land transactions could again become active.

“It’s good to have something to talk about once again,” John Knott, executive vice president of CBRE and head of its Global Gaming Group, said Wednesday.

The consulting and real estate division, which was part of several Strip land transactions in the 2000s, said this weekend’s opening of the $415 million SLS Las Vegas could catalyze the next wave of Strip development.

SLS is a renovation of the former Sahara, a real estate transaction that CBRE brokered in 2007 when SBE Entertainment and private equity firm Stockbridge Real Estate acquired it from the late gaming pioneer William Bennett’s family.

Knott said there are signs the market is on a comeback after real estate prices peaked in 2007 when two Israeli companies bought the New Frontier site for more than $1.24 billion, paying about $33 million an acre. The investment markets crumbled and plans for a $5 billion hotel-casino on the site faded.

Earlier this month, Australian billionaire James Packer and investment firm Oaktree Capital bought majority interest in the distressed debt covering the site. The partnership and former Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal are planning to build a resort on the site.

Even with the anticipated start of construction for the $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas by Malaysia-based Genting Berhad, Knott said it was highly unlikely Las Vegas will see another CityCenter-sized project in 10 years or more.

“Resorts World is a good-sized development, but it’s being phased in,” Knott said.