Fontainebleau Las Vegas / The Drew

Concept drawing of Fontainebleau Las Vegas Resort & Casino

Photo Credit: Toronto Skyscraper and Condo Blog

The Fontainebleau Las Vegas was officially announced in May 2005 as a massive mega-resort project.  The plan was to include over 2800 hotel rooms & 1000 condo units, a 95,000 square foot casino, a 3300-seat entertainment venue, multiple nightclubs and 24 different restaurants.  Estimate cost of the construction was upwards of $2.8 Billion.

Work began in April of 2007 with a planned opening of Fall 2009.

As worked moved along and April of 2008 rolled around, several large Las Vegas projects began to feel the effects of a declining economy but, according to developers of Fountaineblaeu, everything was fully financed and progress on the resort was continuing.

 

However, in the spring of 2009, with the US economy in full freefall, Fontainebleau's lenders were given a dire warning: without more money, the project was going to fail.

 

Banks refused to hand over any more funds; Fontainebleau had been in a dispute with lenders over a default on loan payments while some reports suggested the project was hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and liens had been filed against the developers.

In June of 2009, Fontainebleau's parent company officially filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and work was halted on the resort - which was about 70% complete at the time.

The incomplete Fontainebleau Hotel Las Vegas

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

In November of 2009, in a Miami bankruptcy court, casino magnate & billionaire Carl Icahn - who'd previously owned The Stratosphere & both Arizona Charlie's locations in Las Vegas - offered up $156 Million to purchase the stalled resort project.  At the time, it was estimated that the cost to complete the Fontainebleau was somewhere around $1.5 Billion.

In February of 2010, the sale was finalized (at a price of $148 Million) and in August of 2010, Icahn announced his intention to let the resort sit idle until the US economy and business conditions in Las Vegas improved.

In February 2010, real estate magnate Carl Icahn purchased the bankrupt Fontainebleau for $148 million 

Photo Credit: New York Post

Five years later, in November of 2015, Icahn listed the property for sale at a staggering price of $650 Million - roughly $500 Million above what he'd paid for the property.

In April of 2017, plans were announced to cover the exposed unfinished areas of the resort's lower floors, which were highly visible from Las Vegas Boulevard.  Long considered to be an eyesore by both tourists & locals, $2 Million was spent on cosmetic wrapping to cover the unfinished buildings.  That project was approved & work on hanging the coverings began in July of 2017.

In July of 2017, Fontainebleau received approval to hang cosmetic wrapping on the lower levels

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal 

In August of 2017, it was announced that Fontainbleau had been sold to a pair of New York investment firms, led by developer Steve Witkoff.  The property was purchased for $600 Million with plans to rename the resort and start working on extensive redesigns of both the interior & exterior of the building.  The plan was to resume construction in 2018.

In February of 2018, as part of a new partnership with Marriott International, Witkoff announced the resort would be known as The Drew, named in honour of his son Andrew, who'd passed away in 2011.

At the announcement, Witkoff said he intended to have The Drew open to the public by late 2020.  However, in April 2019, the opening was pushed back to mid-2022 with the delay attributed to the time being spent on redesigns of the property.

The total cost of the project - including the purchase price, construction costs and pre-opening costs - was anticipated to be $3.1 Billion.

Witkoff had planned to finalize a $2 Billion loan to complete the project in January 2020 to cover costs and had said in interviews that as many as 2000 construction workers would be moving onto the site as the year progressed.

But at the end of March 2020, amid the coronavirus outbreak, Witkoff pressed the pause button on construction at The Drew and although some sources have officially declared the project "dead", word is that they still plan on a November 2022 opening for the resort.

The Drew Hotel in April 2020 with construction on the project "paused" due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Junkie/Twitter