Exploring two under-the-radar 2023 Las Vegas Strip developments


Two highly visible developments scheduled to open along the northern portion of the Las Vegas Strip late this year have been grabbing headlines and building anticipation for years now, but Fontainebleau Las Vegas and the MSG Sphere aren’t the only major changes coming to the tourist corridor in 2023.

The transition of Bally’s Las Vegas into Horseshoe Las Vegas is well underway at center Strip, a significant effort for Caesars Entertainment that will alter the look and feel of one of the busiest intersections in the Valley. And a little more than a mile away, new upscale retail development 63 Las Vegas will finally complete the promise of MGM Resorts’ CityCenter project by putting its empty acreage to commercial use.

The original MGM Grand hotel and casino was opened by Kirk Kerkorian in 1973 on the southeast corner of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard and has been operating under the Bally’s name since 1985. It was purchased by the gaming company now known as Caesars Entertainment in 2005 and rumored in recent years to be up for grabs, but Caesars executives announced its planned rebranding a year ago before deciding not to sell one of the resorts in their current Las Vegas portfolio (Caesars Palace, the Cromwell, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo, Harrah’s and the Linq). Caesars also continues to operate Rio Las Vegas, sold in 2019 to Dreamscape Companies.

The decision to use the Horseshoe brand, acquired by Caesars in 2004, might seem like a counterintuitive move on the Strip, where casino renovations almost always focus on new concepts. Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel on Downtown’s Fremont Street famously operated as Binion’s Horseshoe for more than 50 years as the birthplace of the World Series of Poker.

“One of the reasons we decided to rebrand [Bally’s] to Horseshoe is that very strong history, not only in Las Vegas but throughout the country,” says Jason Gregorec, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Las Vegas, adding that the Strip location is the 10th Horseshoe casino in the U.S. “So far we’ve heard a lot of great feedback overall, but also with our team members who all went through additional training to understand what the Horseshoe brand is about—the gambler, the biggest bets, the biggest jackpots.”

Last month, a retiring rodeo clown in town for National Finals Rodeo won nearly $500,000 at the Horseshoe, the first major jackpot since rebranding efforts began.

The 2,800-room resort is in the soft-opening phase and has recently added new venues, such as the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame poker room, restaurant Jack Binion’s Steak, and the Arcade, a traditional arcade attraction where Bally’s sportsbook resided. Other renovations include new carpet featuring the iconic Horseshoe logo and new table games and slots on the casino floor, and chef and TV personality Martin Yan’s M.Y. Asia restaurant and entertainer Blake Shelton’s Ole Red saloon will be added later this year.

The familiar Bally’s marquee on Las Vegas Boulevard is undergoing a complete rebuild and will become a 185-foot, three-sided LED sign similar to other modern marquees on the Strip. And the World Series of Poker will return to the property May 30 through July 18 after its debut at what was still Bally’s in 2022. “By then the property will be fully transitioned, 100% Horseshoe,” Gregorec says. “Having it now on the Strip where it all began at Horseshoe is very exciting.”

Shifting from gambling to more complementary Las Vegas activities, 63 Las Vegas, a multilevel retail and hospitality complex developed by Torino Companies and Flag Luxury Group, is set to open in the spring on the southwest corner of Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.

The project fits between the Shops at Crystals and the Cosmopolitan, utilizing the footprint of the unfinished high-rise originally built with the rest of the CityCenter development and later torn down due to construction defects.

Brett Torino, who previously owned the entire block across from CityCenter and also developed the three-story Harmon Corner restaurant and retail center on the northeast portion of the same intersection, says his company was able to purchase and develop the 63 site—overall around a $700 million project—because of COVID’s effects on the market, along with his strong relationship with MGM Resorts.

“We are very fortunate to work with MGM and very honored they were willing to consider allowing us to develop it,” he says. “A lot has happened coming out of COVID, and the markets change so quickly.”

Among the 228,000-square-foot development’s first tenants to open will be the $20 million flagship location of Ocean Prime, a restaurant with 17 locations across the country, and the 15,000-square-foot Museum of Illusions, a family-friendly art-based attraction with nearly 40 other venues around the world.

Torino estimates that half of 63’s tenants will be open for business by mid-year, and the center should be fully open by early 2024. Another massive LED screen, similar but smaller than the one perched atop Harmon Corner, has been broadcasting advertisements since October.

“The retail market is always shifting. A few years back it was going to be the death of retail because of the internet, but people still want to see things and clearly people have said, ‘We love experiential retail,’” Torino says. “The opportunity to have your brand showcased on the Strip is very slim, because your options are to be inside a mall or [a casino]. That’s not what we do. We develop stuff you can put your eyeballs on; the consumer can see it and not go inside a hotel.”

The developers behind both the Horseshoe and 63 Las Vegas say they are well-positioned to succeed on the Strip given the other major projects in the works, along with the pending arrival of new, massive events like the Formula 1 Grand Prix this November and the Super Bowl in February 2024.

“Every year, whether its food and beverage, new performers and residencies or something like F1, across the board these experiences continue to evolve. Clearly the consumer has voted and said whatever Vegas is doing, they’re doing it right,” Torino says. “Everybody around the world today wants a presence on the Las Vegas Strip, no matter where you go. We’re just fortunate to play a role in that.”

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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