LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Malaysian conglomerate said Monday it will break ground next year on a project that could breathe new economic life into a tired stretch of the Las Vegas Strip where work has stalled during the recession.
The Genting Group said it will pay $350 million for the 87-acre site where the partially built Echelon project by Boyd Gaming Corp. came to a halt nearly five years ago.
Genting intends to build a multi-billion dollar casino that will feature 3,500 hotel rooms, a convention center and a 4,000-seat theater.
Echelon was one of several multibillion-dollar projects that has stalled in Las Vegas as the economy crashed.
The northern end of the Strip once boasted casinos considered the cutting edge of luxury and style. But in recent years it has become the home of huge empty lots and darkened projects, including Las Vegas Plaza and Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a hulking bluish-green tower that was 70 percent finished when construction ended.
Genting's "Resorts World Las Vegas" project is its first in Las Vegas and the latest sign that the area where it's located might be turning around. Developers also broke ground last month on renovations to the Sahara hotel-casino that went dark in 2011 and is expected to reopen next year as SLS Las Vegas.
Genting plans to start construction in 2014 and open in 2016, creating tens of thousands of jobs while revamping a project many thought would sit silent for years. Genting said it will build on the steel and concrete skeleton of the Echelon.
"The entrance of one of the world's leading resort gaming developers into Nevada is another fantastic sign that Las Vegas and the Strip are poised for great things moving forward in 2013 and beyond," Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval governor said in a statement.
The Echelon was intended to be a mixed-use development complete with 5,000 rooms in six hotels, lush landscaping and luxury amenities. The 48-year-old Stardust resort was demolished in 2007 to make way for the $4.8 billion project that had been slated to open next to Circus Circus by 2010.
Construction workers toiled for a year and built 12 stories on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Desert Inn Road before the credit markets choked.
The Genting conglomerate opened its first casino in 1971 in Malaysia and now operates sites in New York state, Philippines, United Kingdom, Singapore, and the Bahamas.
"This is an unparalleled opportunity to showcase what has made the Resorts World brand a globally recognized success for the past several decades," CEO KT Lim said in a statement about the Las Vegas project.
Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier