Rick Caruso tapped for Vegas real estate extravaganza


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One of the world’s biggest casino operators has hired Los Angeles shopping center magnate Rick Caruso to manage development of a $550 million retail and entertainment district in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip that will be crowned by an enormous Ferris wheel.

Caruso, who is weighing a run for mayor of Los Angeles, was tapped by Caesars Entertainment Corp. to oversee creation of the Linq, a new open-air attraction facing Caesars Palace.


The outdoor venue would have more in common with L.A Live or Caruso’s Grove shopping center in Los Angeles than it would with hermetically sealed casinos. City leaders hope the Linq and its bars, restaurants and stores will become a destination with special appeal to the gambling mecca’s growing Gen X and Gen Y clientele.

The Linq represents a new tack for luring visitors to Vegas, which has mostly relied on ever grander resorts to generate buzz in years past. A building boom and the recession left casino companies overloaded with hotel rooms and debt, pressing the city to find other ways to entice tourists.

This time, the new attraction will be the world’s tallest observation wheel called the Las Vegas High Roller. At 550 feet, it is to stand 100 feet taller than the London Eye. Groups of up to 40 could fit into each of the 28 transparent cabins for the half-hour round trip.

Construction on the Linq is set to begin late this year and be complete by 2013. The project has been approved by county officials and financing is in place, according to Caesars. It would be a quarter-mile long and hold more than 200,000 square feet of shops, eateries and bars.

-- Roger Vincent