Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

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LAS VEGAS RETAIL May 2016 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • 347 T he Las Vegas of today looks very different than the Las Vegas of 2007. Pre-recession, the Strip and its operators were focused on mega re- sorts, jamming as many opportunities for gaming onto their floors as humanly pos- sible. Fast forward nine years, and Las Ve- gas — and the rest of the country — learned some valuable lessons. While development halted for a while in this town, it is back with a vengeance, but perhaps not in the way many would expect. There are still resorts being built and rooms being renovated, but many of the Strip's major projects now focus on capturing the tourism dollars that are no longer allocated to gaming. The 2015 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study, produced by GLS Research for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), noted that only 73 percent of all visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas last year. This number was down from 77 percent in 2011. Of those who said they did gamble, half of the respondents said they played for two hours or less per day. PARKS AND REC Tourists may not be coming to Sin City to gamble the way they used to, but they are still coming, the LVCVA notes. The city hosted more than 42.3 million tour- ists last year, and they weren't in town to play Pick-up Sticks. Instead, the Las Vegas tourist of today seeks out shopping, din- ing and entertainment experiences that are hard to replicate back home. Casino and resort operators are catching onto this, and shifting their focus from the machines to a variety of projects that are hoping to stand out among a sea of Strip stimuli. One of the most recent projects to de- but is MGM Resorts International's $575 million entertainment district between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo hotel-casinos. The 22-acre area contains The Park, a greenery-heavy outdoor din- ing and entertainment district that serves as a gateway to the new 20,000-seat T-Mo- bile Arena. "It's hard to believe we're just a few feet away from the Las Vegas Strip," said Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow at The Park's grand opening on April 4. "All great cities have pocket parks, and we felt like we needed something like that on the Strip. The Park literally and figurative- ly carved a path to the future of hospitality in Las Vegas." The Park offers a diverse array of restau- rants and bars leading to T-Mobile Are- na, including Beerhaus, Sake Rok, Brux- ie, California Pizza Kitchen and Shake Shack. While MGM and public officials expressed their enthusiasm and appre- ciation for the new restaurant offerings at the grand opening, it was The Park's open areas that garnered the most at- tention. Emphasizing free activities and, some would say, "underutilized" spaces such as shaded picnic-style tables with board games, would've been unheard of in Las Vegas just a few years ago. This all changed post-recession, thanks to tech- nology and the millennials' penchant for acquiring experiences rather than things. So Vegas did what it does best. It adapted. "One common theme I've often no- ticed in my travels is all great cities have gathering places," said Jim Murren, MGM Resorts' Chairman and CEO, during the grand opening festivities. "Piazzas, parks, plazas — places people make friends and hang out with friends and just relax and enjoy. I always thought Las Vegas could use such a place, and we wanted to deliver on that gathering space." In addition to patio-style seating, The Park features 75 mature trees that were re- planted, 100-foot water walls, large plant- ers with inset seating, and live entertain- ment, such as acoustic guitarists, dancers, sand artists and more. Then there's Bliss Dance, a 40-foot-tall sculpture of a danc- ing woman created by artist Marco Co- chrane. The piece, which was displayed at Burning Man in 2010 and serves as The Park's centerpiece, is illuminated by near- ly 3,000 colored LED lights at night. "One of our goals was to bring the idea of public art to The Park because I believe it's absolutely an essential part of the qual- ity of life for all humans," Murren contin- Strip Stake Gaming takes a backseat to dining, shopping, entertainment and socializing of all kinds as the Las Vegas Strip reinvents itself yet again through a few major projects. Nellie Day MGM's The Park development creates an open-air environment along the Las Vegas strip. Courtesy of Francis and Francis.

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