Australian billionaire planning new Strip casino

Sun file

The 34.6-acre site of the New Frontier sold for $1.2 billion in 2007.

Australian casino mogul James Packer has acquired the former New Frontier site on the north Las Vegas Strip and plans to build a resort there.

Packer, the billionaire chairman of Crown Resorts Ltd., has teamed with former Wynn Resorts Ltd. executive Andrew Pascal and investment giant Oaktree Capital Management to acquire a controlling stake in the 34.6-acre vacant property, just north of Fashion Show mall, according to a news release.

Details of the new resort were not disclosed.

Executives said plans still are being finalized, but the group expects to start construction in late 2015 and finish in 2018.

"You can't be in the gaming industry and not have a special reverence for Las Vegas — that's where it all began," said Packer, whose company has successful casinos in Australia, Macau and London. "While we fell short in past attempts to enter that market, we now have the ideal opportunity."

Terms of the sale also were not disclosed, but according to Bloomberg News, the group paid $280 million for the site.

That’s a fraction of the $1.24 billion that Israel’s El-Ad Group paid for the property at the peak of the real estate bubble in 2007, when it set a record price-per-acre on the resort corridor.

El-Ad bought the site from Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin and tore down the New Frontier. It had planned to replace the old Vegas haunt with an $8 billion luxury hotel similar to its Plaza Hotel in New York, but the recession quashed the project.

"We believed it was the best piece of undeveloped land on the Las Vegas Strip," Oaktree President Bruce Karsh said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.