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Caitlin McGarry

Echelon gets more time, but beautification planned

19 July 2012

The Clark County Zoning Commission on Wednesday granted Boyd Gaming Corp. a six-year extension of time on the north Strip Echelon project.

But Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani wanted the unfinished megaresort, on which construction has been suspended since 2008, to be less of an eyesore.

So Boyd worked with the commission to craft a $4 million site beautification plan that the company expects to complete by spring. Ron Frye, the company's vice president of construction, told the commission on Wednesday that Boyd will submit designs for its landscaping and building screen plans by the end of this month. The commission will review the designs in September.

Boyd plans to cover the complex's steel frames with a screening material, except for a small portion of the expo center in the back of the site. Frye said the company will landscape the Strip-facing portion of the site to blend in with its surroundings.

"The effort and financing you're going to put into this are going to change the face of this corridor," Giunchigliani said. "This will help me with the impetus of getting other neighbors to have to beautify their (sites) as well. I can use you as an example now."

Boyd shelved plans for the $4.8 billion project Aug. 1, 2008, intending to wait out the financial crisis. In 2009, the project was shelved for three to five years. After Wednesday's six-year extension, Echelon might not appear until 2018.

Boyd officials have said they plan to restart Echelon within another three to five years, depending on economic conditions.

The project sits on 87 acres once home to the Stardust. Echelon was intended to be a mult-use complex with multiple hotel towers, a casino, restaurants and bars.

It is unclear whether those same plans will be used when Boyd revives the project or whether Echelon will take a new form.

Frye said the company has made great strides in cleaning up the site since halting construction.

Boyd cleared the project of cranes, lifts and a concrete batch plant, and an on-site dust monitor and security team ensure that the area stays clean.

Commission Chairwoman Susan Brager said Boyd is setting a precedent for other companies with unfinished projects.

"You have really stepped up," she told Frye.