Wynn’s Plans for Desert Inn Revealed

From Associated Press

Plans for the historic Desert Inn resort have been formally announced. The proposed property will include a 45-story, 2,455-room, 514-foot-tall golden glass tower and a four-acre lake.

“This resort will redefine, once again, the luxurious mega-resort in Las Vegas,” wrote DeRuyter Butler, executive vice president of architecture for Butler Ashworth Architects, in a letter to the Clark County planners.

The resort is being developed by owner Steve Wynn, who is credited with starting the mega-resort boom on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1990s. Among the hotel-casinos he developed, before selling them to MGM Grand Inc. in 2000, are the Bellagio, Mirage and Treasure Island.


Wynn plans to transform the 51-year-old Desert Inn into a water-dominated, high-end mega-resort Wall Street observers think will kick off a new Strip building boom.

Last year, Wynn purchased the legendary hotel-casino, which had played host through the years to such notables as Frank Sinatra and was home to Howard Hughes.

The cost of the proposed project is estimated at $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion.

If plans are approved by Clark County officials, Wynn would have one year to begin construction.

A project such as Wynn’s can be completed a couple of years after plans are approved, said Al Laird, a planner with the Clark County Planning Commission.

The timing could not be more important for Las Vegas. Since the last wave of Strip expansion ended in August 2000, Las Vegas visitor growth has slowed considerably.

“I would say everyone in town is rooting for him,” said Andrew Zarnett, gaming analyst for Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. “It’s essential that Las Vegas have a [new wave of development] to grow visitation in that city.”

Wynn’s newest resort will include a 120,000-square-foot casino, 15 restaurants and entertainment venues, 70,000 square feet of retail space, 132,000 square feet of convention space, showrooms of 1,500 and 2,000 seats, two wedding chapels, a luxury spa and a massive three-acre pool deck.

Wynn plans to keep the Desert Inn’s famed golf course intact, according to the plans on file.

The project borrows many elements that have been used with success at the upscale Bellagio. In front of the lake, which is about half the size of the Bellagio’s, will stand a 44-foot fountain adjacent to waterfront dining patios.

The resort also will have an art gallery. Wynn Gallery will be temporarily housed in the St. Andrews Tower, one of the Desert Inn’s existing buildings.

“Limited public displays of Mr. Wynn’s collection are expected,” wrote Glen Ashworth, director of architecture for Wynn Design & Development, in a letter to the planning commission.

The St. Andrews Tower, along with the Palms Tower and the Desert Inn’s luxury villas, will remain a part of the resort complex.

The new resort will be built where the remainder of the Desert Inn’s buildings stand. These buildings are being demolished without explosives.

Wynn Resorts will implode the high-rise Augusta Tower, the southernmost of the Desert Inn buildings, Oct. 23, said Irwin Molasky, Wynn’s business partner.

When the old buildings are gone, a tower a few feet shorter than the 525-foot-high New York-New York tower will be constructed.

The building, however, is not a three-pronged hotel tower, a form Wynn popularized on the Strip.

“The plans show just a single, roughly rectangular tower,” Laird said. “It’s built more on a curve, a really wide arch.”