The Fontainebleau's next chapter: The Drew Las Vegas

Workers start placing a cosmetic wrap on the unfinished The Fontainebleau on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Robert Varela/KSNV)

Now we know what developer Steve Witkoff wants to do. He bought the stalled Fontainebleau last August for 600 million.

It will become “The Drew Las Vegas,” a partnership with JW Marriot, which will turn this into its upscale "Edition" hotel brand.

Four thousand rooms, with meeting space, the estimated completion is late 2020.

Partnering with Marriot gives Witkoff’s property access to a huge customer database.

“I think the prospects are very good. Obviously, he bought the property at a discount, so the construction cost per hotel room is going to be substantially lower,” says CBRE John Knott, the Executive Vice President of the firm’s Global Gaming Group.

"You can't beat the location: right next to what will be the expanded las vegas convention center", says Knott.

“Bodes well for the property, absolutely, both their food and beverage opportunity as well as their occupancy”, he says.

The Big Blue Behemoth has sat silent since 2009 when the original owners could not outrun bankruptcy and financial crash that came. In 2010, billionaire Carl Icahn bought it for pennies on the dollar and sold it to Witkoff last summer.

The sale and the planned opening is welcome news for neighbors at the Turnberry Towers.

The High Rise promised sweeping views of the Las Vegas Strip and delivered until the Fountainbleau was built. Their view of the Strip was replaced by a monument to the financial crisis. Their real estate values plummeted.

Shirley Murrey’s condo is worth half what she bought it for in 2001. She hopes The Drew will change that, and bring new life to a struggling section of the famous Boulevard.

“The SLS, we were so happy when that opened,” Murrey told us from her balcony. “But that has struggled and I think its because there's nothing around it.”

Heading up "The Drew" will be veteran Las Vegas Gaming Executive John Unwin.

RELATED | It’s a wrap: Fontainebleau gets a makeover

“John Unwin has a very good track record. At Caesars he really helped that property transform, of course, he's the one who got the Cosmopolitan open after it had been in pretty difficult circumstances”, says Dave Schwartz, the Director of UNLV's Center for Gaming Research.

At the Las Vegas Strip's north end, it's another piece of the puzzle falling into place.

Resorts World is going up. The Convention Center is expanding. Now "The Drew" is coming.

Regular visitor Joe Martino says, “that's good. The sooner the better. Like I said, more opportunity for jobs for the people here.”

The North end still has its challenges. The Lucky Dragon is on the auction block, the SLS is waiting to finalize a deal with a new buyer and the proposed All Net Arena has yet to put steel in the ground. But nothing has loomed larger than the now, former Fontainebleau, which appears to be getting another chance.

“This finally could be the real time to get that critical mass and the north strip kind of comes back”, says Schwartz.

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