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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston
 

Ellis Island Plans Condo-Hotel

26 August 2004

By Liz Benston, Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS -- An off-Strip locals casino known for $4.95 steak dinner deals has big plans to go upscale.

A few weeks after scuttling plans to take over management of the nearby Tuscany casino, the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery has submitted plans with the county to build a 36-story condo-hotel tower with about 800 rooms.

A use permit filed Aug. 10 calls for a casino in addition to 200 hotel rooms and 603 condo-hotel suites that could be lived in by owners or rented out by the night as the owner chooses. The plans are among a few but growing number of condo-hotel projects in Las Vegas, which are favored for their flexible living arrangements as well as the ability to feed nearby casinos with regular customers.

The project would be built on the Ellis Island site at 4180 Koval Lane near Flamingo Road as well as the adjacent Super 8 Motel site at 4250 Koval Lane. The Ellis Island sits on about 1.7 acres and the contiguous Super 8 property, with about 290 rooms, sits on about 2.5 acres. It's not clear whether the existing properties would be torn down or whether the buildings would be remodeled and expanded.

Casino owner Gary Ellis and other property representatives could not be reached for comment.

Ellis Island had signed a letter of intent to take control of the Tuscany, which had not been as successful as hoped in attracting a mix of visitors and locals. Ellis Island then sued the Tuscany owners in state court last month, claiming Tuscany officials backed out of the deal at the last minute. In the suit, Ellis said he was planning to sell the casino to Diversified Real Estate Concepts Inc., the Chicago-based company developing the proposed Platinum condo-hotel project at 211 E. Flamingo Road near Koval Lane. The nearby 255-unit project was approved by county commissioners last year but has yet to be built.

Diversified Real Estate Concepts officials also could not be reached for comment.

Ellis Island developers estimate the tower would require 1,666 parking spaces but are requesting a waiver from the county to reduce the number of spaces to 1,178.

The Koval Lane casino has carved out a successful niche serving locals including area casino workers who patronize the property after their shifts to take advantage of food and drink specials.

The plans face a town board vote and are scheduled to be heard by the County Planning Commission next month. The Clark County Commission would also weigh in on the project because it is large enough to be of regional significance, county planners said.

County planning staff approved -- but county commissioners last fall voted down -- a plan by Florida company Westgate Resorts to build a timeshare tower with about 700 units, subsequently trimmed to less than 500 units, on 2.5 acres next to the Showcase Mall. But county commissioners have approved a host of other high-rise residential projects in recent months, including Krystle Sands, a 45-story, 600-unit condo-hotel tower on 3.6 acres at the site of the former Algiers Hotel.