Binion’s Downtown Las Vegas Rebirth, 601 On Track

A Saturday evening chat with one of the construction foremen (who himself is now living in one of the shuttered Binion’s rooms) confirmed that Binion’s Hotel & Casino downtown Las Vegas is about to remodel all of their rooms and suites in preparation for re-opening the hotel portion of the property. He gave us a sneak peak at some room design photos which he had on his smart phone. Going to be lots of silver and red plus each door will evidently have a steel-plated mildly cross-hatched design (think artsy, not industrial).

Completion is expected to take the rest of the year. It is more than just a room make-over. An antiquated heating/cooling system (consisting of hot and cold pipes in the walls) will have to be completely gutted and modernized. One can assume they are gunning to be open by New Years Eve.

In addition, the infamous coffee shop downstairs is slated to be turned into a Las Vegas location of the famed Velvet Margarita top rated restaurant and Hollywood hot spot which will convert to a club/lounge after hours.

Old Binion’s Horseshoe Coffee Shop:

Velvet Margarita owner Carlos Adley is also partnering with Binion’s owner Terry Caudill to move forward with the refurbishment of the old Metro Police building at 601 E. Fremont Street and the plans announced last year are indeed taking shape:

New lease at 601 Fremont Street may be shot in arm for entertainment district

We’ll be following the progress and have more details in our Access Vegas Insider Vibe newsletter (free to subscribe at AccessVegas.com).


Ted Newkirk
CEO/Manging Editor
AccessVegas.com

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Las Vegas Downtown Hotels: Luck May Not Be A Lady Much Longer

Big news of late regarding ownership of downtown hotels, new construction, and the revival of a legendary lady. I’m downtown a number of times a month and most nights anymore, it is packed. A significant group of Las Vegas visitors are rebelling against what they perceive as outrageous prices on The Strip for food and drink, and tight Strip slots.

Side Note: Let me note that our Nevada gaming control board does break down statistics from The Strip and downtown separately. Downtown slots ARE looser.

A couple of years ago the Golden Nugget Las Vegas opened another tower and despite the poor economy, they have had little problem filling it. Then The Plaza completely made-over their place and seem to be doing quite well.

So… the owners of the Golden Gate — ironically just across the street from The Plaza — then recently announced that they were building an additional 5 story addition on what is now their parking lot. At first I thought that was a pretty modest addition to a hotel that is doing very well via their sexy dealer party pit — which we have dubbed the boobie pit — until the next shoe dropped:

The owners of the Golden Gate announced that they are buying Fitgerald’s, which ironically has the tallest tower downtown. The owner of the Fitz died recently after a long illness and the Golden Gate people have stepped in to buy it. Of interest to some: They are going to take their second-floor casino area and theme it Vintage Vegas complete with old school slot machines that actually take coins. No word on any changes to their Vue bar in that area that overlooks Fremont Street, but we hope they don’t screw it up too much.

BTW, I will not confirm or deny that I was throwing beads off of that balcony a couple of years ago on Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday!

The new Fitzgerald’s owners also plan a hotel renovation from top to bottom including rooms.

We do know this for sure: They don’t have continuing rights to the name Fitgerald’s, so they are going to have to rename it within 6 months. Interestingly enough, This is the same boat the Las Vegas Hilton is in since their contract as a Hilton Hotel isn’t being renewed.

Finally, we have news on the Lady Luck. It shuttered years ago and yet I’m still asked about it on a regular basis by my readers. Work to re-open it is just about to commence, but with some major changes. Guess what? They aren’t going to have rights to the Lady Luck name (familiar theme here), and are changing the name of the property to The Downtown Grand. Since the MGM Grand is always simply called MGM, I’m assuming that this hotel will end up just being called The Grand by locals and visitors alike.

Also, they are gutting it down to and including plumbing and electrical and are rebuilding the property as an upscale property. What will be interesting to see here is if admittedly mid-market downtown can support three somewhat upscale hotels in the Nugget, Plaza, and Grand. One of the reasons The Strip fell flat on its face during the recession was that too many really expensive properties were built and there wasn’t enough upscale visitor demand.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Zappos.com Moves Downtown Las Vegas, Major Boost Seen For Fremont Street Experience Area

The Biggest News That No One Is Talking About – happens to be the Zappos.com takeover of Las Vegas City Hall for their corporate headquarters. Why have I yet to see even one major Las Vegas blog talk about the impact? Who, what… who cares? You should. Here’s why:

Zappos.com employs 1000 people and they are growing. These employees tend to be younger and obviously have paychecks. With a new Las Vegas City Hall under construction, Zappos will be taking over the old building (on block off of the Fremont Street Experience) for their headquarters.

Despite the bad economy, downtown Las Vegas has slowly but surely been undergoing a revitalization. The new East Fremont district has gained a nice reputation. First Friday is established. The Golden Nugget opened a new tower about a year ago. The El Cortez had a major makeover a couple of years ago and continues improvements. The Plaza Las Vegas is currently in the process of MAJOR upgrades and improvements to their rooms.

However, downtown still has somewhat of a run-down image. With justification. Many of the properties simply have not had the cash to reinvest. Here’s where Zappos employees come in:

Seven days per week, Zappos employees are going to get off of work downtown. They will grab a drink. They will eat. They will leave their money downtown (plus add to an already lively scene). This infusion of people and cash will help provide the profits and incentive for ALL downtown businesses to step up their game. They will have the money to fix-up and upgrade.

I’m not saying that downtown Las Vegas will ever compete with The Strip. Nor should it. To build billion dollar resorts, you have to charge customers high prices to recoup the cost. Las Vegas continues to need the lower-price, lower-frills option downtown has offers. I don’t anticipate that changing. But wouldn’t it be nice to see some of the older downtown properties spruced up a bit? New life into them with the influx of more customers? This arrangement between the City of Las Vegas and Zappos is a winner for all involved and a huge win for downtown in general.

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas