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Benjamin Spillman

Is that really the Gold Spike?

5 December 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Down-on-their-luck tourists of the future could be in for a surprise when they show up at the Gold Spike looking for $1 beers and tequila shots.

The new owner plans to transform what is one of the dingiest dives in downtown Las Vegas to a trendy hotel and lounge complete with a spa and several new bungalow suites called the 4spa & Bungalows. He hasn't settled on a name for the casino and main hotel building.

The project could be complete by the end of next year.

Miami developer Gregg Covin also said he is close to a deal with investors with Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles ties who recently bought the adjacent Travel Inn at Las Vegas Boulevard and Ogden Avenue to add it to the project.

Part of the proposed redevelopment is scheduled to go before the Las Vegas City Council today. The council will consider a special use permit and site development plan for a hotel, lounge and bar.

"We want to renovate without shutting it down," Covin said. "Once we renovate we think we can get revenue to go back over there."

Covin said he expects to spend about $5 million on the approximately 100 rooms in the Gold Spike. The idea is to replace the furniture, carpet, paint and fixtures throughout the hotel. Upgraded rooms, he said, would be comparable to rooms at the Golden Nugget and similarly priced.

In addition to room upgrades, Covin plans to renovate the Gold Spike casino.

The upgrade would include an overhaul of the casino, a new restaurant and reintroduction of table games that were removed after the previous owners bought the Gold Spike from longtime operator Jackie Gaughan. He is also considering adding a sports book.

Along Las Vegas Boulevard, in what is a Gold Spike parking lot, Covin wants to add seven attached bungalows, each about 550 square feet. He's planning a pool and one-story spa that would offer services similar to what's available at large resorts but on a much smaller scale.

"When you have a small hotel, you can give a higher level of service," he said.

Covin met with the new owners of the Travel Inn on Tuesday and said he is close to a deal that would incorporate that property into the project.

Neither the Gold Spike nor Travel Inn investors sought any city incentives for the project, but both are likely eligible for facade upgrade grants and tax rebates, said Scott Adams, business development director for the city.

Adams said an upscale revival is just what that part of downtown needs. The Gold Spike is northeast of the Lady Luck, a closed hotel Los Angeles investors recently purchased with plans to renovate and reopen it.

"The Travel Inn has clearly been a blighting influence," Adams said. "(The Gold Spike) has got a great sign out front, but that is where it stops."

Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, said if the plans come to fruition, people who are familiar with the Gold Spike won't recognize it.

Covin agreed in July to buy the Gold Spike for $15.6 million from Tamares Las Vegas Properties. In late August real estate investors Stephen Siegel and John Tippins announced a deal to buy the Travel Inn for $5 million. At the time they said they would seek a partnership with Covin.