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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Is Las Vegas's Riviera Hotel about to be history?

14 February 2015

LAS VEGAS -- Is the Riviera Hotel and Casino about to join the Dunes, New Frontier, Stardust and others in the Las Vegas history pages?

Real estate, gaming and tourism sources, all speaking on background, have said the 60-year-old Strip resort will be purchased and demolished by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, with the site being used for planned convention center expansion activities. No time frame has been given.

A spokesman for Starwood Capital Group in Connecticut, which owns the Riviera, declined comment. Paragon Gaming, which operates the Riviera under a management contract that expires in June, has not responded to requests for comment.

On Tuesday LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter said, “No comment” when asked about the Riviera. An agency representative echoed that statement at the end of the week, as well.

The Riviera, which opened in April 1955, has been in and out bankruptcy three times over 50 years.

The authority board has approved several land acquisitions for the planned $2.3 billion Las Vegas Global Business District, but most of that property has been south of the existing Las Vegas Convention Center campus off Sierra Vista Drive.

The Global Business District proposal, a plan to refurbish the 3.2 million square-feet of convention halls to maintain the city’s lead as the nation’s top trade show destination, includes a transportation component that community leaders have been discussing for nearly a year.

The Riviera site could be a coveted location for that transportation center because the hotel-casino is on the doorstep of Las Vegas Boulevard, midway between the south end of the Strip and downtown Las Vegas.

Greenwich-based Starwood took over primary ownership of the resort after it filed for bankruptcy in July 2010.

Paragon Gaming, headed by Dianna Bennett — daughter of the late Las Vegas gaming pioneer William Bennett — began managing the Riviera in June 2013, following a major shake-up that included the firing of the CEO.

Paragon Vice President George Scott Menke told state gaming regulators last year the company was recruited to assess the Strip property and recommend ways to revitalize it. Paragon was approved to receive a percentage of the revenue generated by the resort, which has more than 2,100 hotel rooms and a 110,000-square-foot casino.

Pulling from a $6 million capital improvement fund provided by Starwood, Paragon replaced carpeting, power-washed the building and remodeled the showroom. Menke said contractors worked through 200 code notices issued by Clark County regarding bad wiring and mechanical problems throughout the property.

Paragon planned to update the property’s technology and continue renovations.
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