To the naked eye, the site of Resorts World Las Vegas doesn't appear much different today than it did when the project held a splashy groundbreaking ceremony six months ago.
But way back in the southwest corner of the 87-acre site, far from its colorful wall of signage on Las Vegas Boulevard, lies evidence that the planned $4 billion resort has, in fact, made some visible progress. There, workers have topped off half of a huge parking structure that was partially built as part of Boyd Gaming Corp.’s abandoned Echelon project, and they have continued to work on the rest of it.
It’s not much, especially compared to the horde of workers and equipment that would be needed to complete the entire resort. But it’s something — and more is under way behind the scenes.
Genting Group, the Malaysia-based company that is creating Resorts World, has been relatively quiet following the groundbreaking event in May. Since then, updates about Genting’s progress in Las Vegas have generally come in the form of a few sparse posts on social media.
In late June and early August, the Resorts World Las Vegas Facebook account posted some pictures of construction activity, saying some work was getting done early in the morning and late at night to avoid the sweltering summer heat. In late October, the same account said Resorts World topped off half of an “enormous” garage and was “continuing with site prep work and perfecting design and integration while waiting for some permits to be issued.”
Genting claims to have spent $50 million on construction and other work since groundbreaking, as well as more for site upkeep. The company is working on a list of permits — such as those related to energy, sewer and water systems — while it continues to hash out plans for the rest of the resort. It remains planned for a mid-2018 opening.
“Resorts World Las Vegas is one of the most cutting-edge and ambitious projects to be undertaken in the Las Vegas Strip in the last decade,” Genting spokesman Michael Levoff said in a statement. “A $4 billion project will not be built overnight; it requires a rigorous planning and approval process.”
Levoff said Genting would create “thousands of construction jobs” after the “final design and permitting” is complete.
Once that happens, the Chinese-themed resort will not be built entirely from scratch. Boyd had already initiated a lot of construction before it halted the Echelon project and later sold the site to Genting for $350 million. Genting plans to build off what Boyd began — beyond the parking structure — for Resorts World.
The Las Vegas project has not been the only big resort development recently taken on by Genting. In the United Kingdom, the company just opened Resorts World Birmingham, a 12-story, 538,000-square foot building that includes a casino and hotel as well as 18 bars and restaurants, 50 shops, a movie theater and a spa, according to the BBC.
Genting has established itself as a major player in the global hospitality industry via its properties in Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere. The company already runs an American casino, Resorts World Casino New York City, which last year “remained the largest grossing video gaming machine facility by gaming revenue in the Northeast United States,” according to a statement from Genting Chairman K.T. Lim in the company’s 2014 annual report.
Genting’s leisure and hospitality segment — which Resorts World Las Vegas will be part of — accounted for about 85 percent of its revenue last year, but the company has other significant business interests, too. Genting is also involved in oil palm plantations, oil and gas exploration, property development and electric power generation and supply.
With its sizable financial influence and elaborate plans for the Resorts World site — once home to the Stardust before Boyd started on Echelon — Genting’s entry to Las Vegas has been widely anticipated by Nevada public officials. Gov. Brian Sandoval said the groundbreaking ceremony marked “a day that we’ve been waiting for for a very long time,” and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison said the resort would be “a jewel in the desert.”
Aside from its effect on the broader Las Vegas economy, another important factor at stake in the Resorts World project is its influence on the sluggish north Strip in particular. But other signs of activity are beginning to emerge from some of the project’s neighbors: Work has begun on the planned Alon Las Vegas resort nearby, and the unfinished Fontainebleau resort is now for sale.