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Benjamin Spillman

Development: M Resort reveals big retail plans

20 May 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- When he announced plans to build M Resort south of town on Las Vegas Boulevard, Anthony Marnell III compared the planned project to Green Valley Ranch Resort and Red Rock Resort properties -- with a little something more.

On Monday during a retail real estate conference, Marnell unveiled what he had in mind.

Marnell and MGM Mirage, his partner in the $1 billion M Resort project, announced they would bring in mall developer Taubman Centers to build and run a 1 million-square-foot shopping center.

The mall would open in 2011 or 2012 and would be a first for the locals resort scene, a fully integrated mall with upscale shopping opportunities and department stores carrying everyday products.

"We think it is the next level of experience," Marnell said.

The announcement came Monday morning at the Las Vegas Convention Center during the International Council of Shopping Centers conference. There are nearly 43,000 people registered for the conference.

The group didn't announce any tenants, but said major department store anchors are expected to fill about half the space.

At 1 million square feet, the center would have about twice the retail space of Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian or the Shoppes at Palazzo.

Taubman's resume includes shopping centers such as Beverly Center in Los Angeles, Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver and the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey.

The company says its centers are some of the most productive in the nation, with sales averaging about $550 per square foot.

The mall's cost wasn't reported. But Marnell said that his company and MGM Mirage will be 50-50 partners on the overall resort and lease land to Taubman to design, build and operate the mall.

"Taubman is not about doing everything, they are about doing what they do very well," Marnell said.

He said MGM Mirage Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Terry Lanni made the connection with Taubman. The company is providing retail leasing services to MGM's $9 billion CityCenter project under construction on the Strip.

Although M Resort is scheduled to be up and running more than a year before the mall opens, Marnell said development is on a fast track.

The idea, Marnell said, is to create an integrated resort and retail development such as those on the Strip, but with inventory that caters to local tastes.

Marnell, a Southern Highlands resident, said the area around the M site sorely lacks retail. Residents in the area who want a mall experience need to drive to the Galleria at Sunset in Henderson or Fashion Show mall on the Strip.

Although those malls are close to dining, gambling and entertainment, neither is part of a resort such as Taubman's M project.

Michael Kammerling, a senior vice president for retail at Grubb & Ellis in Las Vegas, said the project should be a good fit for the neighborhood.

The area south of Las Vegas has seen a boom in upscale home building but not retail development.

The South Point and Silverton casinos are popular destinations for locals, but neither offers full-scale shopping.

"There isn't much right now," Kammerling said.

There are plans for new mall projects in the area. But Kammerling said the M Resort is most likely to come to fruition as the developers intend, as opposed to other proposals in the area.

"Most of it that is planned, it is really kind of futuristic right now," Kammerling said.