Fashion Show mall slates $350M expansion

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LAS VEGAS -- The Strip's largest shopping venue, the Fashion Show mall, is about to become larger, thanks to a $350 million redevelopment project headed by the Rouse Co., a real estate developer headquartered in Columbia, Md.

The project, which will be completed during the next two years in two phases, will double the size of the 20-year-old shopping center to 1.9 million square feet and add three anchor stores -- Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's Home Store and Lord & Taylor, all new to the Nevada market -- to those that already exist, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Robinsons-May and Dillard's.

In addition, it is anticipated by Neiman's and Saks that the Las Vegas stores will become the companies' best-performing venues outside of New York, so the two will expand to become flagship locations for their respective companies.

The decision to expand the mall, which will remain open throughout construction, was a relatively easy one, according to Rita Brandin, vice president and development director for the Rouse Co.

"Fashion Show is already a highly productive center within the Rouse portfolio and ranks among the top 10 [malls] in the country in terms of sales," she said.

Add that to the fact that it is located in Las Vegas, where shopping and dining no longer take a back seat to gaming, and the fact that 40% of the mall's 10 million customers per year are local and you've got a recipe for major expansion plans.

A rendering of what the Fashion Show mall will look like in 2003. Phase one of the project, already under construction, is scheduled to be completed in October 2002 and is concentrated on the west side of the structure, where a 180,000-square-foot Nordstrom and a 150,000-square-foot Bloomingdale's will be built.

All the existing anchor stores also will be expanded during this phase.

Neiman Marcus, which is 102,000 square feet, will grow to encompass 160,000 square feet, while Dillard's, currently 126,000 square feet; Robinsons-May, measuring 108,000 square feet, and Macy's, with 134,000 square feet, each will be enlarged to 200,000 square feet.

In addition, specialty store space, which currently totals 309,000 square feet, will be expanded to 520,000 square feet.

During the west expansion, an attraction known as the Great Room also will be constructed.

This area, which will be 85 feet wide, four stories high and 600 feet long, will be used for live events such as fashion shows, product launches and promotions.

The Great Room will feature a retractable, 130-foot-long elevated runway and stage as well as a video wall measuring 36 feet wide and 24 feet high and broadcast capabilities.

The next year, in October 2003, Lord & Taylor and the expanded Saks are scheduled to open.

The former will be 138,000 square feet, while plans call for the latter, which currently measures 64,000 square feet, to expand to 160,000 square feet.

Once Saks is in its new location on the south side of the mall, according to Brandin, construction on the shopping center's 600 feet of Las Vegas Boulevard frontage can begin.

A plaza with sidewalk cafes and bistros is planned for this area.

One hundred and fifty feet overhead will be an attraction called the Cloud, a 600-foot-long canopy approximately the size of one-and-a-half football fields that will serve as a projection surface for fashion-oriented images, according to Brandin.

Additionally, there will be a 48-foot-by-34-foot LED display screen (essentially a very large television screen) located at the top of the Grand Staircase, which will serve as Fashion Show's primary entrance.

The display screen will be able to broadcast live fashion events from inside the mall as well as computer-generated graphics and images from videotape and video discs.

"Architecturally, we wanted to create a unique property here in the face of all the unique properties in Las Vegas, but we did not want a thematic environment," Brandin said.

"We really looked at what we had, and what we had was a lot of equity in the name Fashion Show.

"We asked ourselves, 'What goes with fashion in the 21st century?' and technology came to mind," according to Brandin.

"So we added an entertainment component that offers a mix of technical and live entertainment. It also allows major brands to have another platform to advertise."

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