Sahara Las Vegas Hotel Gets $300 Million for Redevelpment

Sahara Hotel Casino on Las Vegas Strip, to Close May 16
A general view of the porte cochere at the Sahara Hotel April 13, 2006 in Las Vegas. Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The owners of the Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas obtained $300 million in funding to redevelop the landmark property into a resort that will be called SLS Las Vegas.

The 1,600-room hotel, located on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, will be renovated by the Gensler architecture firm with interior design by Philippe Starck, said Sam Nazarian, founder and chairman of SBE Entertainment Group LLC, which owns the property with Stockbridge Real Estate Funds of San Francisco. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s J.P. Morgan Securities LLC raised the funds, SBE said in a statement today.

“Our plan will be to deliver a product that is affordable and approachable,” Nazarian said in a telephone interview. New restaurants and nightclubs and 40,000 square feet (3,700 square meters) of convention space are planned for the hotel, he said. “We are going back to the roots of Las Vegas.”

SBE plans to open the resort in 2014. The Los Angeles-based company owns the SLS luxury-hotel chain, Katsuya and Cleo restaurant brands, and Hyde nightclubs. It’s working on a new Hyde location at AmericanAirlines Arena, home to the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat, and is in talks with New York’s Madison Square Garden, Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, among other sports facilities, according to Nazarian.

The casino at SLS Las Vegas will be on a single floor, unlike other new developments on the Strip, which have multiple gaming levels, Nazarian said. SBE will be able to capitalize on its database of past customers and its visibility in Los Angeles, the biggest feeder market for Las Vegas, he said.

Celebrities who performed at the Sahara, which was featured in the 1960 heist film “Ocean’s Eleven” and closed in May 2011, include Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Wayne Newton, Don Rickles, Dean Martin, Jack Benny and Buddy Hackett, according to SBE. In 1956, comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello appeared at the Sahara for their last performance together.

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