By Eli Segall Las Vegas Review-Journal
August 9, 2019 – 4:57 pm
Lorenzo Doumani will never forget Oct. 11, 2007.
His son Dylan was born, and, while at the hospital, he got a call that his $180 million sale of a property on the north Strip had closed.
“It was the best day of my life,” Doumani recalled this week.
It was also the peak of Las Vegas’ wild real estate bubble and the culmination of a project Doumani never built. The developer is now giving the high-rise game another go.
Clark County commissioners approved his plans in May for a 45-story, 720-room nongaming hotel at 305 Convention Center Drive. The site, former home of the Clarion hotel, which Doumani imploded in 2015, is a short walk from the parcel he sold right before the market crashed.
His $850 million Majestic Las Vegas would feature restaurants, convention and meeting space, and a so-called wellness medical spa that would offer “executive physicals” where patrons could get nutritional and exercise regimens.
A 56-year-old former low-budget-movie producer, Doumani said this week he is scheduled to break ground in May 2020 and finish construction in 2023.
Given the new project, here’s a look back at the old one — and how Doumani cashed in shortly before the economy spiraled.
His former parcel, between the Peppermill restaurant and where the Riviera stood, spans 5.4 acres. It was formerly home to the La Concha and El Morocco motels, which were built by his family in the 1960s.
Doumani and hotel giant Hilton announced plans in 2004 for a $250 million project featuring a 37-story, Conrad-branded hotel and a 42-story condo tower. They aimed to finish in 2006, reports said.
In fall 2006, with the project still not built, Doumani’s group announced that the top 10 floors of the $825 million project — called the Conrad Las Vegas and described as a 654-foot-tall tower — would feature Waldorf-Astoria condos. They aimed to open it in 2009.
In summer 2007, however, Doumani said an announcement was coming in October. That month, developer Triple Five closed its purchase of the parcel for a jaw-dropping $33 million an acre.
The site remains undeveloped. Triple Five, which acquired some adjacent property nearly two years ago, has put its holdings there on the market for $30 million an acre.
James Grindstaff, vice president of planning and development at Triple Five, said Friday the company is not actively shopping the site around, but if “someone wants to give us a great offer, we’ll entertain it.”
He said the company is in the “infant stages” of a development plan but has been heavily focused on the $5 billion, 3 million-square-foot mall it’s building in New Jersey called American Dream.
The megamall is slated to open in October. Afterward, executives will turn their attention back to the Strip, according to Grindstaff.
Doumani sold at the height of Las Vegas’ real estate craze, and after the crash, Southern Nevada became a financial wasteland of soaring foreclosures; plunging property values; abandoned, partially built projects; and vacant land where plans never came out of the ground.
Doumani said this week that his bubble-era plans were “conceptual” and that given the timing of it all, he wouldn’t have built the project. He never even pulled construction permits, he noted.
“The economy would have tanked before we broke ground,” he said.