LAS VEGAS - An Australian company won't proceed with a project for a 1,100-room hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, company officials announced Thursday.
Crown Resorts Ltd. said it will pull out of the Alon endeavor after reviewing funding alternatives and will consider the possibility of an outright sale of their project. Officials working on the project described it as "shovel-ready" after two years of planning, design and pre-construction work on the site on the northern end of the Strip.
"Today's announcements will maximize value for the benefit of all Crown Resorts shareholders, allowing us to redeploy capital to fund high quality growth projects as well as adopting a number of capital management initiatives," Crown Resorts' Chairman Robert Rankin said in a statement that also announced other changes for the company, including selling some of its stake in a Macau-based casino venture and focusing more on properties in Australia.
The Alon project was born from a partnership between billionaire Australian hotelier James Packer and former Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal. While Crown was the primary funding source, Pascal said he and other members of a senior leadership team are "totally devoted" to the project and want it to proceed if they can find a new financier.
He acknowledged that it's been difficult to gather enough capital in the past year or so for the "very ambitious project," but said he thinks Las Vegas is heading into a period of rapid growth and that a relatively small, luxury resort like Alon is "totally right" for the tourism mecca.
Developers submitted plans to county officials in 2015 that showed a resort with two hotel towers, a 126,000-square-foot water feature, a nightclub, a movie theater and a botanical chapel.
At the time, developers predicted they would break ground in early 2016 and open the resort in late 2018. But questions have swirled for the past year about whether the money would come through.
The project is located on 35 acres across from the Wynn and Encore casinos and is near the Trump hotel, Fashion Show Mall and forthcoming Resorts World development.
It's not the first project to fall through on the prime real estate once occupied by the New Frontier, where Elvis Presley first performed in Las Vegas in 1956. The building was imploded in 2007 to make way for a $5 billion project meant to mimic the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
That hotel never materialized.
Making good on its declared intention to sell and lease back two prominent restaurant locations, the Ivar's restaurant chain has sold its Northlake properties for $13.7 million, according to King County records.
In May, Ivar's President Bob Donegan told The Seattle Times that the Acres of Clams restaurant at Pier 54 and the Salmon House at Northlake would be put on the market, represented by Kidder Mathews.
Ivar's has owned the Northlake location since 1966. Donegan said the site was once a cedar shake mill.
Ivar Haglund bought it after he returned from a trip abroad with plans to expand his restaurant business. One of his ideas was to build "Ivar's Roman Baths" in Ballard, but real estate broker Nick Nickerson dissuaded him.
The first Salmon House opened in the winter of 1969, built in the style of a Native American longhouse, with no windows - and no exhaust fans for the kitchen.
"There's no steel in the building," said Donegan. "You can imagine what happened next."
On the night of the opening - with the mayor, governor and city council members in attendance - "the place filled with smoke," said Donegan, and the fire department was called.
The following year, it reopened "in the configuration you now see," Donegan said. On the upstairs level, some of the original char marks are still visible from the 1969 fire.
Donegan says the restaurant has a 20-year leaseback agreement, with two five-year options to extend.
The buyer was Fana Northlake LLC, which is associated with Bellevue's Fana Group.
The site is at 401 N.E. Northlake Way. The 27,000-square-foot main property is occupied by Ivar's Salmon House, completed in 1970. It has about 14,000 square feet, prime Lake Union views and a floating barge in front with additional seating. The sale also includes a roughly 23,000-square-foot parking lot on the north side of Northlake.
Ivar's Acres of Clams location at 1001 Alaskan Way - in the recently renovated Pier 54 - remains on the market. It is also represented by KM's Andy Miller, Jason Rosauer and Rob Anderson.
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