Expansion plans to boost Strip's shopping appeal


LAS VEGAS -- Odds are good your clients think of this area as a premier spot to gamble. But have they considered coming here for a shopping spree?

"There's another new reason to come to Las Vegas: Shop till you drop," said George Connor, senior vice president of retail properties for Colliers International, a real estate company based in Las Vegas.

A gondolier passes a replica of Doge's Palace at the Venetian hotel, where soon its Grande Canal Shoppes will include 500,000 square feet of space. "You'll be able to go to the same upscale stores and enjoy fine dining here just as you do in New York or Chicago."

The Las Vegas Strip, which now has 2.2 million square feet of space, will add another 4 million square feet of new shops in the next two years, according to Connor.

"That will mean a 2.5-mile stretch of the Strip where shoppers will have available the very best found anywhere in the world -- the best restaurants and shops. Show me anywhere else in the world where that's happening," he said. In fact, that would mean more shopping along the Strip than can be found at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, which, at 4 million square feet, is generally recognized as the largest shopping center in the country.

The Strip itself is more than four miles long, but the shopping area has been concentrated in the 2.5-mile stretch between the Mandalay Bay hotel and the Fashion Show Mall, the largest retail outlet on the strip.

Connor said it's no accident that upscale retail is moving to Vegas. Fancier resorts and a surge in hotel rooms, many of them upscale, help promote retail demand. "The average tourist only gambles for four hours. They have plenty of time for other activities such as shopping. And they want upscale shops," he said.

He said the development is part of Las Vegas' evolution from a gambling mecca to an all-around tourist destination.

Among retail outlets coming to the Strip over the next two years are:

  • The Grande Canal Shoppes at the Venetian resort, which eventually will have 500,000 square feet of space.
  • A 32,000-square-foot Rue de la Paix upscale French shopping area at Paris Las Vegas, opening in December.
  • TrizecHahn Development Corp.'s $250 million, 500,000-square-foot Desert Passage retail center at the new Aladdin, set to open in 2000.
  • A 1 million-square-foot retail center linking the Mandalay Bay and Luxor hotel-casinos.
  • Nordstrom, the Seattle-based retailer known for its personal service, is opening a three-level, 210,000-square-foot store at the latter site.

    In addition to new retail, many existing centers are expanding. The Fashion Show Mall, for example, recently began the first phase of its remodeling and expansion plan, set for completion in fall 2002. The Rouse Co., manager and owner of the mall, plans to double its size to 1.8 million square feet.

    The Fashion Show Mall will be anchored by seven department stores, including newcomers Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale's, making it the second-largest retail venue in the Southwest. It also will be one of the largest shopping malls in the country.

    And the future of retail? "I think you'll see continuing growth for the next decade," said Connor.

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