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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Barrick Buys Two More Properties

12 October 2004

LAS VEGAS -- A private company that bought four aging casinos in downtown Las Vegas has snapped up two motels for future redevelopment and plans to purchase more land nearby as part of a redevelopment corridor along Main Street.

Barrick Gaming Corp., which bought the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Western and Gold Spike casinos for $82 million in March, this month purchased the Nevada Hotel and the Queen of Hearts Hotel for $7.1 million.

Barrick also this month purchased a parking lot close to the Nevada Hotel for $1 million.

The 160-room Nevada Hotel is located on about a half an acre at 235 S. Main St. The 100-room Queen of Hearts is located on about a tenth of an acre at 19 E. Lewis St.

Barrick and New York-based private equity group Tamares Real Estate bought the properties from Ann Meyers, who purchased them from gaming pioneer Jackie Gaughan several years ago.

Barrick President Stephen Crystal said the land -- together with planned acquisitions nearby -- will be "more than sufficient" to incorporate a major remodeling effort along the aging Main Street corridor and anchored by the Plaza.

"It's not the only real estate we'll be acquiring on Main Street," he said.

Crystal said the partners intend to perform much-needed maintenance and repair work on the properties in the short term and will build new projects at some point down the road in conjunction with previously announced redevelopment plans for land Barrick owns around the Plaza. Both hotels are at least 30 years old.

Barrick hasn't decided on what to ultimately build on the hotel sites, though the company is leaning toward some form of residential high-rise, Crystal said. Future projects will also likely include some form of gaming, he said. The timeline for the projects hasn't yet been decided.

Both of the hotels operate slot machines and have the right to offer unlimited gambling, he said. Those licenses will be valuable in the long term, especially given a recent state law aimed at curbing the spread of neighborhood casinos, he said.

Barrick and Tamares, which also partnered in the purchase of the four casinos from Gaughan, say they intend to focus their first redevelopment efforts on a seven-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Plaza that is intended to incorporate an intermodal transit center, a hotel and casino expansion and entertainment venues.

Resort broker David Atwell said the recent sales are further proof that downtown is reaching a critical mass of future redevelopment.

"Downtown is finally evolving after all these years into something very special and very different," said Atwell, who represented Barrick in the transactions.

Separately, a company called Streamline Tower LLC has purchased two aging motels near the Neonopolis retail mall downtown. The company bought the Golden Inn across Las Vegas Boulevard from Neonopolis and the Travel Inn, at 217 N. Las Vegas Boulevard near Ogden Street, for $6.4 million in July.

Streamline last month submitted plans to build a 267-foot condominium tower with the City of Las Vegas, which will consider those plans at a planning commission meeting Oct. 21. The tower would include 251 condo units and 24,000 square feet of commercial space.

Streamline officials could not be reached for comment.