Updated October 12, 2021 - 4:17 pm
It took some time for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to wrap up the $120 million 10-acre land deal unanimously approved Tuesday by the organization’s board of directors.
But LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said it was worth the pandemic-induced wait, noting that after around 1½ years, the deal was finally reached with the “curious innovator always looking for the next way to take care of his customers and employees.”
While Chilean resort and real estate developer Claudio Fischer wasn’t present at Tuesday’s meeting, Hill said Fischer promises to be a good neighbor for the Convention Center and a good fit for Las Vegas and is known among Southern Nevada casino executives.
“He’s an interesting and fun guy to be around,” Hill said of Fischer, who developed the Monticello casino resort near Santiago, Chile, and the Park Hyatt Mendoza hotel-casino in Argentina. Fischer has other real estate holdings in Panama and has wanted to build in Las Vegas for a long time, Hill said.
Now he has the opportunity with 10 acres on the southeast corner of Las Vegas and Elvis Presley boulevards.
The corner lot near the Fontainebleau and across the street from Resorts World Las Vegas is destined to be a casino-hotel property, thanks to the restrictions placed on the sales agreement.
Until development begins, the LVCVA will continue to have access to the land for parking, outdoor trade show exhibits and to access property where the Resorts World Loop tunnel would be built.
Fischer will have until Jan. 1, 2031, to start work on a project or the LVCVA would get the opportunity to buy the land back.
Proceeds from the sale to Fischer will be used to finance the renovation of four exhibit halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center over a two-year period.
Michael Parks, executive vice president of CBRE in Las Vegas and the broker for the convention authority in the deal, said he was pleased with the final outcome.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Parks said late Tuesday. “Any time we get a new investor to invest a significant amount of money on the Strip, it’s usually a good thing for Las Vegas and this circumstance is no different.”
Parks said he didn’t know of Fischer’s background in hospitality and gaming until the deal was proposed.
Pilot, salmon farmer
Hill said Fischer started his career as a commercial airline pilot and branched into real estate with his brother, Humberto. He also established himself as one of the world’s largest salmon farmers, eventually selling that business to pursue other interests.
Fischer owns two airlines and his company, Sun Dreams, is moving toward acquiring EnjoyHotels, which would make him one of the largest hotel-casino operators in Latin America, Hill said.
Fischer’s pursuit of the 10 acres on the north Strip began in early 2020 when he reached out to the LVCVA with a bid of $120 million on the land, Hill said. At the time, the COVID-19 was becoming worrisome, but there were no threats of shutdowns or health and safety mandates.
Hill and LVCVA Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger flew to Santiago to meet with Fischer and to see his flagship resort south of the city. They returned by way of Panama to check out another of his properties.
Hill said he was ready to nail down the deal with Fischer when the COVID-19 pandemic hit with all its fury in March.
“By the time we got to March, we thought we were pretty close, but obviously the pandemic put a pause on that,” Hill said. “Claudio actually called back in December or early January and said, ‘Let’s pick this conversation back up.’ So we started to have the conversation again and reached the conclusion we reached today.”
A final decision on the terms wasn’t reached until Oct. 6 when the LVCVA board meeting agenda was set, Hill said.
‘Freedom to build’
“Claudio understandably wants as much freedom to build what he would like,” Hill said. “We see this parcel as a real opportunity for the entire neighborhood. Not only is it our next-door neighbor, but it’s next door to the Fontainebleau and across the street from Resorts World and it’s a place where all those properties can meet.
“The growth of the northern part of the Strip is important to us and we see this as a real opportunity because there are a lot of great things going into this area along the resort corridor.”
Hill said it’s unclear when Fischer would begin work on a project, but Hill noted that he expects it to occur “once we’re sure the pandemic is behind us.”