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Fontainebleau has new message: ‘Miracles still happen’

After a tumultuous history with years of not knowing what would happen to the building, Las Vegas’ Fontainebleau has a message: “Miracles still happen.”

That’s the wording on a new billboard along Las Vegas Boulevard near the towering project that also features the resort’s name and logo.

Many locals might consider it a miracle that the Fontainebleau is actually on a path to opening.

Its history is marked by bankruptcy proceedings, halted construction, different sets of owners, national economic meltdowns, and years of guessing what might happen with the unfinished skyscraper on the north edge of the Strip.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas owner Jeffrey Soffer, the project’s original developer, reacquired the property last year. He resumed construction and aims to open the 67-story hotel-casino in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Asked if the billboard message refers to the Fontainebleau’s up-and-down history, management said in a statement Wednesday that this “resort and casino was always meant to be Fontainebleau Las Vegas. We are excited about the future and we look forward to bringing our vision to life.”

Soffer, a Florida developer, acquired the 1950s-era Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach in 2005 and unveiled plans for the one on Las Vegas Boulevard that same year, teaming up with former Las Vegas casino executive Glenn Schaeffer on the project.

They broke ground in 2007. But Las Vegas’ roaring real estate market soon crashed and the economy imploded. The project went bankrupt in 2009.

Billionaire Carl Icahn acquired the unfinished resort in 2010 for around $150 million and, after leaving it largely untouched, sold it in 2017 for $600 million to developer Steve Witkoff and partners.

In early 2018, Witkoff unveiled the resort’s new name, Drew Las Vegas, later saying it would debut in 2022. But he suspended construction in March 2020 as Las Vegas rapidly shut down over fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

After construction stopped, contractors filed tens of millions of dollars’ worth of liens alleging unpaid bills for their work at the Drew. Several ex-employees also sued Witkoff, alleging they were laid off from the project amid the pandemic and weren’t paid what their contracts had called for.

In a full-circle moment, Soffer reacquired the project in February 2021 in partnership with the real estate wing of Kansas conglomerate Koch Industries.

Soffer unveiled its name and expected opening last fall, stating it would feature more than 3,700 rooms as well as restaurants, shops, nightlife and other amenities.

His team showcased the Fontainebleau’s planned conference space last month, saying it would include a pillarless ballroom spanning more than 105,000 square feet and nearly 62,000 square feet of space that can be split into 57 breakout rooms.

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

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