Tony Hsieh’s group buys shuttered downtown casino for $14 million

A view of the Western Hotel and Casino on East Fremont Street on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. In a statement, Tamares Real Estate, owners of the Western, announced the casino will close Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, for an indefinite period of time.

Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project bought the shuttered Western Hotel for $14 million, giving his group another chunk of downtown real estate for a possible future project.

The resort, built in 1970 on Fremont Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, was closed last January by owner Tamares Real Estate. Tamares sold it this month to a limited liability company controlled by developer Andrew Donner.

Donner works with Hsieh, the CEO of online retailer Zappos, to acquire properties for Hsieh's $350 million downtown revitalization campaign. The Downtown Project acquired the Western through Donner, people with knowledge of the deal said.

“It’s definitely in furtherance of Tony Hsieh and his vision,” said Harry Braunstein, a lawyer for Tamares.

Donner did not respond to requests for comment. Zach Ware, a Downtown Project leader, did not respond to an email asking what his group wants to do with the site.

Hsieh’s group plans to invest $200 million in downtown real estate. Last year, it bought at least 8 acres between Las Vegas Boulevard and 11th Street for about $19.5 million.

“If you look at what they’re doing, they’re trying to buy everything on Fremont Street,” said real estate broker Brandon Wiegand, of Focus Commercial Group.

The low-end Western, known for its cheap slot machines and table games, had 90 employees and 15,000 square feet of gambling space. It closed Jan. 16, 2012, after more than 40 years in operation. The casino and cafe were run down, cigarette burns and beer stains marred the gambling tables, and police often congregated outside.

New York-based Tamares still owns other real estate downtown, including the Plaza and retail property in the Fremont East District, including the Le Thai restaurant building.

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