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At Sahara, it's hard to miss the gaping swatch cut through the building as work continues toward transforming it into the SLS Las Vegas. We've been keeping an eye on things, but we're not the only ones. Readers like Greg C. have been chronicling the changes earnestly.
The dramatic panoramic shown above is from the SLS' Facebook page, but Greg recently provided us with a before shot showing the roofline that once was.
Greg has also spied that the de-theming of Sahara's towers has begun. This is what the Tunis tower looked liked before recent changes:
This is it looks like now:
Notice the removal of the green shade structure and green-trimmed glass railing on the penthouse balconies. The windows that once rimmed the suite's walls are now gone, too. Also, some of the ornamental Moroccan-esque roofline is coming down while the entire roof of the building in the foreground has also vanished.
As we've previously reported, Sahara's iconic marquee and dome have already fell in the name of progress. In the photo gallery below, Greg documents the porte cochere's destruction, or as he calls it the incredible shrinking dome.
Our eagle-eyed readers have been keeping a tight watch on the $415 million renovation of the north Strip property. A few weeks ago, the Sahara's iconic marquee and dome came down. Now, a photo by VegasChatter fan Danial Mente (seen above) shows a large swath of the old casino has been erased. Another VC reader, Dan H., reports being able to now "see in and view old exterior walls." Here's another angle of the demolition as posted by SLS Las Vegas on its Facebook page a few days ago:
A third VegasChatter fan, Greg C., recently reached out to us over rumors he's heard about possible implosions ahead, specifically regarding the Sahara's Tunis tower which he explored during the 2011 liquidation sale and whose snapshots of the tower can be seen in the photo gallery below:
If ever a Las Vegas hotel tower needed implosion -- this is it. If they got rid of this one, it would improve the views from the other towers and open up the property some (way too much concrete crammed in there). Have you heard any rumblings of a possible demolition? He (owner Sam Nazarian) has just recently demolished the (even older) portion of the old casino -- the original 1952-era portion was pulped about two weeks ago. So, why not break out the dynamite for this old relic? Why does a boutique hotel need 1600 rooms? Most have about 4-500 rooms. And who would want to stay in the Tunis anyway? --- NO VIEWS. The whole place was musty, crusty and in need of ....well.......nothing that some well-placed TNT couldn't fix.
Snapshots / Sahara / SLS Vegas / SBE / Construction / Renovations / Name Changes / → All Tags
Its iconic marquee was gone in less than a day, but the dismantling of Sahara's just as recognizable dome is still underway. VegasChatter friend Danial Mente took this snapshot earlier today of a dome that now looks more like a plucked flower, with just the center, stemlike support structure remaining.
SBE plans to spend $415 million dollars to renovate the run-down property into a shiny and new SLS by fall of 2014. When it debuts, it will feature 1,600 Philippe Starck-designed guest rooms; all Fred Segal, all the time retail shopping; four nightlife venues including a new version of SBE's original Shelter nightclub and a Sayers Club; and dining options that will include Hollywood hotspot The Griddle Cafe, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck and a Umami Burger, a chain of Cali burger joints.
And, just like that, another piece of Vegas has slipped into history.
The good news is that a piece of the Sahara will always live on in downtown's Neon Boneyard where this sign can already be found:
Yes, we repeat, there are already SLS Vegas model rooms in the Sahara. We were just as shocked to hear it. VegasChatter fan Danial Mente wins the smooth operator award of the year after informing us that he was able to talk his way inside Sahara yesterday (and, we're just going to keep calling it Sahara until the sign comes down, fyi) and into being shown model rooms for SLS.
Just don't count on your being able to do it, too. Especially, after this post. Sorry, in advance.
Openings / SLS Vegas / Sahara / Lost Vegas / → All Tags
SBE, the nightlife-hospitality company that bought Sahara (and then, hiccup, closed it down), reports that it (finally) has the money it needs to transform the historic, aging property into the shiny and new SLS Las Vegas. And, that construction begins now. Just when we were beginning to wonder what up with that.
The SLS Vegas is expected to open in the fall of next year after a $415 million makeover. We're still having a hard time believing that timeline, though. When it does make its debut, it will offer 1,600 Philippe Starck-designed guest rooms; all Fred Segal, all the time retail shopping; four nightlife venues include a new version of SBE's original Shelter nightclub and a Sayers Club; and dining options that will include Hollywood hotspot The Griddle Cafe, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya by Starck and a Umami Burger, a chain of Cali burger joints.
We'd heard the skeleton of Speed: The Ride was hidden in plain sight, somewhere near the Strip. But, we didn't know where. Remember the roller coaster located on the outside of the Sahara? When the Sahara closed so did the ride. But, it was meant to re-open a few miles down the Strip, opposite Mandalay Bay, as the highlight of a new retail and entertainment complex called Akita Plaza. This grand idea included a tightrope walking school. And, you've never heard of it, because they never built it. Yet. We've heard no progress about this very large development for some time.
Breslin Builders were in charge of the move and the mothballing. And they, like us all, wait to see what will happen. Like its neighbor, the also much promised Skyvue Super Wheel, we don't hold our breath in waiting for news. Breslin has a permit until the end of April to keep the coaster in this location. Perhaps, then, we'll learn the next chapter of this saga.
Announcements / SLS Vegas / Sam Nazarian / Sahara / Openings / Fred Segal / → All Tags
The SLS Vegas is moving forward. If only on paper.
In a press release issued today, Sam Nazarian is sticking with an anticipated opening of 2014 for the transformation of the Sahara. And, when it makes its debut, it will be all Fred Segal, all the time.
Halloween / Fat Frank / Coco / Prince Harry / Sahara / The Stripper Mobile / → All Tags
The calendar hasn't quite turned to October yet, but various costumes have been running through our mind as we make our way through VegasChatter's Ultimate Halloween 2012 Guide. If you don't know what you'll be yet, either, here are five Vegas Halloween costume ideas floating around the VC offices:
We love Las Vegas and part of that is loving Las Vegas’ history. So, while we enjoy telling you what we love about Vegas and keeping you up-to-date on what's going on, we would like to take some time to look back at Vegas past. Today, we continue a monthly series on shuttered (but not forgotten) Las Vegas hotels and casinos. We hope you enjoy the stroll down memory lane.
The first casino that opened on the land that would eventually be occupied by the Sahara was called Club Bingo. It was built by Milton Prell and opened July 24, 1947. Club Bingo was mostly a bingo hall, but also offered all the other standard casino games of the time. When Prell acquired the land, he was convinced to build a resort hotel and casino on the property.
Observation Wheels / Ferris Wheels / SkyVue Las Vegas Super Wheel / The Linq / The High Roller / Akita Plaza / Sahara / Speed The Ride / Roller Coasters / → All Tags
A tale of one city and two big wheels.
We recently had the chance to the visit the two rival sites for the proposed observation wheels competing to dominate your Vegas skyline at the tail end of 2013. One visit was official, the other our typical VegasChatter snoop-around-the-outside-looking-through-the-fence kinda of deal.
The SkyVue Super Wheel is destined to revolve opposite Mandalay Bay. The High Roller will rotate mid-Strip as the anchor of The Linq. We’ve looked around, talked to a few folks and we have some thoughts we think are worth sharing from our soapbox.
The High Roller will be the world’s largest wheel. 550 feet. They've hired project leaders and designers who’ve worked on the previous two highest wheels. They’ve raised $550 million dollars (total cost of The Linq). Have 72% of their allocated Linq tenants almost signed on the bottom line and are working with teams around the world to ensure the attraction opens on time.
Lost Vegas / Vegas History / Turning Back The Clock / Sahara / Flamingo / Caesars Palace / Monte Carlo / Excalibur / Sands / MGM Grand / → All Tags
The Vegas of today wasn't the Vegas of yesterday, that's for sure. And, while we know nothing stays the same here, it can be hard to remember the specifics of what once was.
VegasChatter Twitter fan @StephenSurefire recently sent us a link to a website that allows us to go trippin' down memory lane through old trip reports. Lost Vegas as recounted by a handful of tourists from Alaska to Maryland, and a few places in between. All, describing stays ranging from 1957 to 1999. After clicking through some of the reports it became clear that these weren't filed in the same years as their visits, but each contributor still managed to turn back the clock with clarity. Here are some of our favorite highlights from lasvegastripreport.com: