Derek Stevens celebrates 5 years of The D Hotel and Casino with packed house at DLVEC on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (Downtown Las Vegas Events Center/Tom Donoghue Photography)
When we last visited in November, at the corner of Fremont and Main, the old, worn and venerable Las Vegas Club was being demolished to pieces. The building had stood on that spot since 1949.
Today, all you see is dirt – a blank canvas waiting for the next big thing.
“I want something new down here, so I love nostalgic. But some things just need to be replaced,” Steve Dear, a frequent visitor from Minneapolis, told me Monday as we stood looking at the empty plot of land. He won’t miss, he says, what was there.
Derek Stevens is the CEO and owner of “The D” and the Golden Gate, and also CEO of what was the Las Vegas Club. When I talked to him in November, he hinted at his plans.
“We’ve been working on the design now for about a year and a half. So I would say we’re down that road pretty far,” Stevens told me then.
Six months later, he’s keeping his cards close to his vest, but here’s what he’s taking to the Las Vegas planning commission about tomorrow:
A 459-foot high new resort, which, according to drawings, would stand about 60 stories tall. It would have a Las Vegas-appropriate 777 hotel rooms with a 117,000 square foot casino. A parking garage across Main would be connected by a walkway.
“It’s huge news. It’s gonna be an infusion of a whole new gaming product — a whole new casino down there. And it could really define a lot of what Fremont Street now is,” says David Schwartz, the Executive Director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research.
What Fremont Street “is,” is older. By our count, the last brand new resort — which is now the “The D” — went up in 1980. Something new would be an economic boost both large and small.
The added room inventory and casino space could boost Las Vegas’ bottom line.
It would also help Jerome Davis, one of the street performers who stands on Fremont. Davis does the rodeo circuit and comes here for competitions.
He performs here, he told me, “for the people that get injured – the guys that are riding. All this money goes back to into them for therapy, for machines, anything I do on my own free time to help back out.”
He’s looking at the prospect, in a few years, of standing on one hot corner, with something new behind him.
“It’ll be good. It’ll probably double what we make now, so it’ll really be good,” says Davis.
On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Planning Commission will take a look at the initial plans and consider several special use permits that would be required for construction. The proposed resort would also need the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, because the height could interfere with aircraft landing at nearby airports.
Most of the people I ran into on Fremont welcomed something new on the horizon. Bonnie Cole, visiting from Hawaii, urged caution.
“I sure hope they don’t turn downtown into the Strip ‘cause that’s why I like downtown – it’s more laid back, a different vibe,” Cole says.