Foreign Group Buys Echelon; Construction to Start End of 2013 - 8 News NOW

Foreign Group Buys Echelon; Construction to Start End of 2013

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LAS VEGAS -- A new resort on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip is expected to bring 20,000 construction jobs and thousands of permanent positions.

Foreign developers purchased the former Echelon property Monday for $350 million.

The site has sat vacant for years as the original owners, Boyd Gaming, lost millions on what Clark County commissioners called an unfinished eyesore.

Developers expect to break ground as soon as the end of 2013 or early 2014.

The property has been designed to cater to a very specific market: international tourists.

According to the developers, Resorts World Las Vegas is inspired by Asia, aiming to please visitors from overseas.

Malaysia-based Genting Group is the first foreign developer to try a project of this magnitude.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval called the project "a tremendous opportunity for our state."

"We're very grateful that Genting is willing to make this monumental investment," he said. "It is the next chapter in the evolution of Las Vegas."

As designed, the property will feature its own water park and a panda bear exhibit.

"It's going to bring that many tourists to the great state of Nevada, be able to cross market between the east and the west," Sandoval said.

Even more significant, Resorts World Las Vegas would house a convention center.

At more than 5,000-square feet, the facility will be specifically designed to boost trade with Asian visitors.

"Las Vegas was built on a lot of things, but the convention industry is very important and we think that's starting to rebound here," said Christian Goode, senior vice president of development for Genting.

Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith said the Las Vegas company didn't see a long-term future with the property.

"We concluded that developing a large-scale project on the Strip from the ground up was not consistent with our current strategy," Smith said.

Goode said his company sees a lot of potential for their business on the north end of the Strip.

"Las Vegas: It's seen hard times like the rest of the U.S. economy," he said. "But as Las Vegas continues to rebound, we want to play a part in that."

Genting Group said it is keeping the Echelon skeleton. The construction that is already there has been tested for safety and is sound, the company said.

By using the current construction, it will help Genting open the new resort even faster, Goode said.

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