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Rod Smith
 

Venetian Plows Ahead, Closure Nears for Tam O'Shanter

7 January 2004

and Erik C. Huey

Another piece of Las Vegas history will close next week to make way for The Venetian's second Las Vegas resort on the corner of Twain Avenue and the Strip, across from Wynn Resorts' new hotel-casino.

Plans for the new resort call for building a 3,000-room hotel tower that will cost about $1 billion on the Tam O'Shanter site adjacent to The Venetian, sources confirmed Tuesday.

To make way for the new resort, the neighboring 45-year-old, family-owned motel at 3317 Las Vegas Blvd. South will close Monday.

Venetian officials said no decision has been made on when construction will start or what the theme will be for the new resort, although it is not expected to be Venice-themed.

Nevertheless, Venetian spokesman Ron Reese said The Venetian is proceeding with the demolition to prepare the site so the company can move quickly once decisions are made.

Venetian officials bought the 11.4-acre site and 100-room motel in October 1998 from Tam O'Shanter's original owner, Bernie Zeldin, his daughter and current Tam O'Shanter co-manager, Leah Zeldin, said. Bernie Zeldin died five years ago.

The cost of the acquisition was not disclosed, although Zeldin said the price was "several million dollars."

"We were mainly operating on borrowed time and our time ran out," Zeldin said Tuesday. She said her father and Venetian parent Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson were good friends.

"My father always spoke very highly of Mr. Adelson," she said.

Zeldin is bittersweet about the business coming to an end.

She said the family, which includes her sister Julie, and brother-in-law, Ben Pfeiffer, will liquidate the motel's assets and decide about their future later. The name Tam O'Shanter came from a Chicago golf course where her father played, she added.

"My father built this motel back in 1959 and we've seen a lot of different changes to the Strip," Zeldin said. "We enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. It's been a good ride,"

The motel's distinctive Irish Tam O'Shanter cap neon sign will be headed to the city's Neon Sign Museum.

The Tam O'Shanter is the latest in a series of smaller Strip motels closing. In early December, demolition began on one wing of the La Concha Motel across from the Stardust. Demolition of the remaining property is forthcoming.

The existing $1.4 billion, 36-story Venetian was opened on the site of the old Sands in 1999 by Las Vegas Sands, which Adelson controls.

A new 22-story tower, including 12 stories of rooms and 10 stories of parking, opened last year, bringing the resort's room total to 4,049.

After 45 years, family-owned motel shutting down to make room for new resort