LAS VEGAS -- Monday morning's announcement by Boyd Gaming Corp. that the Las Vegas company sold the mothballed Echelon site to Malaysia's Genting Group for $350 million breathes new life into a property that was originally part of the Strip's construction boom of the 1950s.
Part of the 87-acre site was home to the famed Stardust resort, which was conceived in 1955 by bootlegger and gaming executive Tony Cornero and opened three years later.
The Stardust added a nine-story tower in 1964 and its decorative star-studded neon sign in 1965, and had its facade remodeled in 1977, according to a casino timeline published by UNLV's Architecture Studies Library.
The resort more than held its own with high rollers through the years, thanks to top-notch lounge entertainment, showgirls, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a drive-in theater. The Stardust was the first Strip resort with its own sports book.
Among the entertainers who performed at the resort were Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton, George Carlin and Andrew Dice Clay.
But the Stardust also was one of the properties used for skimming operations by organized crime when it was owned in the 1970s by Argent Corp. The resort and the skim were depicted in the 1995 movie "Casino," with the mythical Tangiers hotel playing the role of the Stardust. One of the key executives at the Stardust during those days, mob-connected Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, was portrayed in the movie as Ace Rothstein by Robert De Niro.
Enter Boyd Gaming, whose sterling reputation enabled the company to acquire the Stardust in 1985. The company added a new 32-story tower and a convention center in 1991, and also remodeled its restaurant and gaming areas.
Boyd's plan was to replace the Stardust and use adjacent property to erect the $4.8 billion Echelon megaresort and have it open by late 2010. But the sour economy scuttled those dreams and Boyd suspended construction with planned hotel structures only partially complete.
The property sale was initially greeted well on Wall Street, with Boyd Gaming's stock up 7.6 percent to $6.95 a share as of late Monday morning.
Monday, September 1 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:06:07 GMT
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