We learned last week that Harrah’s, struggling under billions of dollars of debt, will postpone the opening of the Octavius Tower, which has been under construction since 2006. The 660-room tower won’t open until demand for Vegas hotel rooms improves. There’s a subtle irony here, for those who know strip real estate history.
The rise of Steve Wynn from slot manager and minority owner at the Frontier, to hotelier controlling the Golden Nugget, came because of a brilliant real estate deal forged between Howard Hughes, banker E. Parry Thomas, Wynn, and Caesars’ (long before Harrah’s was involved). The land was the very property on which today sits the unfinished Octavius Tower.
Its all about those high voltage power lines that run along the south edge of the Caesars’ property, that jog and run between Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon (formerly the Barbary Coast) and the Flamingo. In the 80s, those lines ran a straight line across the street and formed the southern edge of Caesars. Howard Hughes owned the property south of the lines to Flamingo Boulevard.
Wynn was able to convince Howard Hughes to give him an option to buy that land, which was a remarkable feat as Hughes rarely sold investment land, and he let it known around town that he intended to build a casino much like the Barbary Coast. It wasn’t long before Caesars’ was offering the sun, sky and moon, and with the profits, Wynn took control of the Golden Nugget.
So Caesars’ cancelling expansion plans shortly after Wynn successfully opened his Encore expansion has some real historic irony in Las Vegas. Steve Wynn end-runs Caesars’ again!