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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Grand Bazaar Shops planned for entrance to Bally's Las Vegas

4 December 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Even with competition from more than a half-billion dollars’ worth of elaborate Strip retail districts under development, Larry Siegel says his planned Grand Bazaar Shops near the entrance to Bally’s - Las Vegas will stand out.

His design and concept inspiration was the “world’s great markets,” such as the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the night markets in Asia and the spice markets in India.

“We’re going to create almost 60,000 square feet of energy that will draw in the 22 million or so visitors who walk by that space annually,” said Siegel, chairman of the Juno Property Group, which has been planning the development for almost three years.

The $50 million project began construction Tuesday and will take over the plaza area in front of Bally’s. The development is expected to open next fall.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns Bally’s, leased the land to Siegel’s company and is a financial investor in the development with two other financial backers.

Bally’s President David Hoenemeyer said the project is part of the overall makeover of the 2,814-room hotel-casino.

Over the past year, the hotel’s south tower was converted into the Jubilee Tower, and more than 750 rooms were remodeled. Bally’s casino also was remodeled, and new restaurants are being added.

“This will be a tremendous attraction to bring people into the property,” Hoenemeyer said. “Since I arrived seven years ago, I’ve been perplexed on what to do with that space. We’re very excited about this attraction.”

A movable walkway that transports Bally’s patrons to and from the Strip casino will be removed and replaced by more than 150 retail offerings, dining choices and bars. The outdoor setting will resemble the world’s classic bazaars and markets, with colorful mosaic-patterned rooftops that look like tents.

The development covers 2 acres leading up to the front of Bally’s.

Swarovski Crystal will have a small shop in the Grand Bazaar and will place a 4,000-pound, 14-foot-tall crystal piece on a pole nearly 80 feet above the marketplace that will become the centerpiece of a daily midnight entertainment attraction.

Siegel said the Grand Bazaar will help bring Bally’s front doors closer to the Strip.

Two full-service restaurants, including one operated by a yet-to-be-revealed New York City-based celebrity chef, will be located on the far eastern edge of the development closest to Bally’s porte cochere.

“The location is surrounded by tremendous hotel rooms, it offers a direct view of the Bellagio fountains, and we are bringing in tenants that are new to Las Vegas and some that are new to the U.S.,” Siegel said.

Of the 55,000-square-foot site, more than one-third will be dedicated to restaurants and bars.

Los Angeles chef Sam Marvin will operate five separate shops, including a store that allows patrons to purchase and either consume or ship back home artisan cupcakes, ice cream, macaroons, meats and spices.

Siegel said the Grand Bazaar Shops is designed to be easily walked, with individual store sizes ranging between 150 square feet and 300 square feet. A select group will have 1,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet of space.

Siegel has a 35-year career in real estate and retail development. He is former chairman and CEO of the Mills Corp., an outlet shopping center developer. He has watched Las Vegas transform over the past few years as he developed the idea for the Grand Bazaar.

Retail has become a major component of the Las Vegas experience. According to the 2012 Las Vegas Perspective, the city has more than 11.4 million square feet of shopping centers, much of it centered along the Strip. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the average tourist spent $149.12 on shopping in 2012.

The Grand Bazaar Shops is located between two new retail destinations on the Strip. Caesars Entertainment is spending $550 million on the Linq development between Flamingo and The Quad. To the north, MGM Resorts International is spending $100 million to create an outdoor district between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.

“With as many visitors as Las Vegas sees, people want to consume,” Siegel said.

The space in front of Bally’s Las Vegas was a parking lot in the 1980s and was once dubbed the most expensive parking area on the Strip. Over the years, various Bally’s owners discussed different options to bring the front door closer to the Strip.

The movable walkway was built in the 1990s when the hotel-casino was owned by the late Arthur Goldberg.

“Grand Bazaar Shops is located on arguably the greatest piece of undeveloped real estate in the country,” said Daniel Glimcher, the principal of Glimcher Capital Group, one of the development’s financial backers.

Word of the Grand Bazaar Shops leaked out on various Las Vegas blogs and tourism-oriented websites over the past year.