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Wynn Resorts venturing into NY for Manhattan project

Updated September 24, 2022 - 12:04 pm

Las Vegas Boulevard, the epicenter of American gambling, is dominated by New York landlords.

Now a big company from Las Vegas wants a bite of the Big Apple.

New York real estate heavyweight Related Companies announced recently that it’s partnering with Wynn Resorts to pursue a casino license, with plans for a project in Related’s Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.

Their news release did not provide specifics on the project, saying only it would be a “resort, entertainment and gaming destination along the Hudson River,” and that it would be near the sprawling Javits Center convention facility.

But Wynn’s venture marks a reversal of sorts from what Las Vegas has seen in recent years: New Yorkers snapping up property in Southern Nevada’s most lucrative stretch of real estate.

Of course, Las Vegas has long been a destination for out-of-town developers, house flippers, and commercial-property landlords. (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written about Southern California firms buying apartment complexes here.)

But when it comes to the Strip, one city in particular has emerged as the main source of buyers lately.

New York-based Vici Properties, a Caesars Entertainment spinoff, vastly expanded its holdings in Las Vegas when it acquired casino giant MGM Resorts International’s real estate spinoff in a $17 billion-plus deal.

As part of the buyout, which closed this spring, Vici acquired several MGM-operated properties along Las Vegas Boulevard including The Mirage, Park MGM, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur.

Before that, Vici also acquired casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s real estate on the Strip — The Venetian, Palazzo and The Venetian Expo — for $4 billion, in a deal that closed in February.

All told, Vici now owns 660 acres of real estate along the Strip, “the most economically productive street in the world,” the company said this spring.

Another major landlord from New York is investment giant Blackstone, whose portfolio includes Bellagio, Aria and Vdara. It purchased those three for more than $8 billion combined and leased them back to MGM Resorts.

It also owns two other MGM-operated properties — Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand — in a joint venture with Vici.

Blackstone had kicked off a real estate buying spree in Southern Nevada after the economy crashed a decade or so ago, and it owned and operated The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for years.

It bought the flashy hotel-casino in 2014 for $1.73 billion and sold it for $5.65 billion. The sale, which closed in May, marked the “most profitable single asset sale ever” for Blackstone’s real estate business, the company previously said.

Meanwhile, New York’s Dreamscape Companies acquired the off-Strip Rio for $516.3 million in 2019, and New York investment firm Gindi Capital, after it teamed up to buy Showcase Mall several years ago, purchased more property along Las Vegas Boulevard in 2019 for $172 million.

Last month, Clark County commissioners approved Gindi’s plans for a new three-story retail complex spanning more than 300,000 square feet on that roughly 9.5-acre site — which Gindi had acquired from Spectrum Group Management, another New York firm.

Related, Wynn’s casino partner in New York, is no stranger to Las Vegas either. Among other ventures here, it partnered on the development of World Market Center, downtown’s massive furniture-showroom hall that was acquired in 2017 by (drum roll) Blackstone.

Time will tell whether other Las Vegas firms plant a flag in New York. But odds are, a company there is bound to buy something here first.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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