Non-gaming Majestic Las Vegas scheduled to open in 2023

More than four years after he imploded the Clarion, developer Lorenzo Doumani has received approvals to build a luxury hotel in its place near the north Strip. Clark County commissioners gave the green light Wednesday to Doumani’s plans for a 45-story, 720-room nongaming hotel at 305 Convention Center Drive.

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Majestic Las Vegas to break ground in 2020, developer says

More than four years after he imploded the Clarion, developer Lorenzo Doumani has received approvals to build a luxury hotel in its place near the north Strip. Clark County commissioners gave the green light Wednesday to Doumani’s plans for a 45-story, 720-room nongaming hotel at 305 Convention Center Drive.

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Clarion Implosion

Published on Feb 10, 2015

It took about 20 seconds to destroy the 12-story, 200-room building on Feb. 10, 2015 shortly before 3 a.m, but not its notable history. After originally opening in 1970 as the Royal Inn, the Clarion Hotel closed on Sept. 2, 2014, when Las Vegas developer Lorenzo Doumani bought the six-acre property for $22.5 million in October. In the Clarion’s place at 305 Convention Center Drive, between the Las Vegas Strip and the convention center and in the shadow of the Riviera and Encore hotel-casinos, will be a towering mixed-use resort designed to appeal to convention-goers, according to Doumani.


And yes, there was an elevator shaft that did not go down as planned:…


For Clarion owner, implosion is the easy part

By John Katsilometes 
Published Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015 | 10:13 a.m. 
Updated Monday, Feb. 9, 2015 | 11:33 a.m.

Imploding a building is a massive undertaking. It’s a real knock-down, drag-out experience.

But our city’s latest implosion isn’t the most massive undertaking on the to-do list of Lorenzo Doumani, owner of the Clarion resort and its surrounding property. In fact, the implosion, scheduled for Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. (or, late Monday night), isn’t even the biggest project for Doumani this month.

The real estate magnate also is renovating an estate he bought in December 2013 in the Hollywood Hills, an 8,835-square-foot mansion flanked by a pair of guest houses that overlooks the Chateau Marmont luxury hotel on Sunset Boulevard.

The home previously was owned by Katy Perry and Russell Brand, who paid $6.5 million for the property in 2011, only to divorce a year later. Doumani paid $5.6 million for the estate, but for the past three months has been toggling his time between L.A. and Las Vegas overseeing a massive refurbishment of the home. The structure needs to be reinforced to prevent it from sliding down the hillside on which it sits.

“This is not just pouring a slab of concrete and building on it,” Doumani said. “We’re going in with giant drilling rigs to put columns in the ground. This is much harder, truthfully, than planning an implosion. Much harder.”

The long-anticipated knockdown of the Clarion, once the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, will be witnessed by a group of VIP guests on the 6-acre site.

Doumani, who paid $22.5 million for the hotel in October, plans to build a mixed-use, nongaming resort to target conventioneers. He is lining up international investors to fund the project, expected to cost between $500 million and $1 billion, and is relying on Congress’ EB-5 investment program, which allows investors to secure American citizenship in exchange for large business investments.

Doumani is familiar with major real estate transactions. His father, Ed, was the original owner of La Concha on the Strip, the lobby of which now is the entrance to the Neon Museum. Lorenzo Doumani owns the parcel on which the Peppermill restaurant sits, and he is the former head of Majestic Resorts, which in 2007 sold 5.4 acres between the Peppermill and Riviera for $180 million.

So Doumani knows as much about moving money as moving dirt. For his new resort, Doumani envisions a tower so high he can look down on Wynn and Encore from its rooftop. He talks of a resort that has a personality as large as his own — which is significant — with style and offerings befitting any gourmand. A half-dozen restaurants and “great, unique entertainment” are to be hallmarks of the unnamed resort.

But here is where we slide in a healthy measure of skepticism: We’ll be excited when cranes and shovels hit that property. The catch is, the future and timeline of Doumani’s resort depend on two significant projects: Genting Berhad’s Resorts World Las Vegas and a planned expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The announcement that Chinese-themed Resorts World would be built sparked the $2.3 billion convention center concept, which in turn will dictate how and when Doumani proceeds. The convention center is across the street from the Clarion property.

The best time frame for the new resort to open is the summer of 2018, Doumani said, but expect fluidity throughout the project’s development.

“I will have some idea of what we’re going to do later in the year,” Doumani said. “We need to wait for the convention center plans to come through. There is a synergy in the entire area. Everything needs to be complementary, and my feeling is the convention center is going to have an idea of its own timeline in the second quarter of next year. But all my preliminary plans are ready to go. I just don’t want to make any big announcement, then have to make big changes.”

In a city that has witnessed myriad renderings of projects that never broke ground, the Clarion’s implosion signifies only the start of a grand design. Keep an eye on Resorts World. That will be a good indicator of how these dominoes — and even the old Clarion — will tumble.


Lorenzo Doumani takes over Clarion: ‘We’re blowing it up,’ creating something ‘very cool’

Published Monday, Oct. 13, 2014

You might think imploding a Las Vegas resort is not child’s play. But in the Doumani family, it is.

At 12:01 a.m. Jan. 13, young Dylan Doumani is to drop the plunger to bring down the one-time Clarion and Debbie Reynolds Hotel and set off an overnight party to be co-hosted by neighboring Piero’s Italian Restaurant.

It all sounds like something out of a Disney movie, really, and it is appropriate that Dylan spent his 7th birthday (which was Saturday) at Disneyland in Anaheim.

As it is, his father, Lorenzo, is looking to make the ratty Clarion the happiest place on earth, or at least on Convention Center Drive. Doumani bought the property in October for $22.5 million. The Clarion closed for good on Labor Day, and put most of its inventory up for sale through the month of September.

Doumani is now the sole owner of that property, paying cash for the old building that opened as the Royal Inn in 1980 and that was owned by Reynolds in the 1990s before tumbling into bankruptcy.

Eager for the neighborhood to develop around him over the next few years, Doumani’s immediate plans are at once destructive and lofty.

“We’re blowing it up,” Doumani said during an interview last week at Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar in Town Square. “And then we’re going to make it something mega, unlike anything you’ve seen in Las Vegas.”

This will not be a massive mall, nor a locals casino. It won’t offer any gaming at all, actually.

“It’s nongaming, and it’ll be some kind of mixed-use property,” Doumani says. “It is going to be very cool, trust me.”

The cost is anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion, with Doumani relying upon a cash stream from Congress’s EB-5 program, which allows international investors to gain citizenship in exchange for investment in U.S. real estate projects.

“I’ll be able to fund the project cost,” Doumani says confidently. “I’m in a unique position to raise money, and I’ve been very fortunate and have done really well in my career.”

In the end, the project will reflect Doumani’s brimming-with-magnanimity disposition and ample wealth.

“My board of directors is me and my split personality,” the 51-year-old Doumani said grinning while sipping a colorful cocktail. “Making this deal was easy. I had no financing. It was a cash deal.”

Doumani has a throwback way of doing business. He is an Old Vegas personality, for sure.

“Las Vegas has become too corporate,” he asserts, not surprisingly. “The city has lost its personality. I want a place that has big personality and style, great amenities. … We’ll have six restaurants and great, unique entertainment.”

Doumani says that if he secures approval from the FAA and Clark County commissioners, his tower “will be looking down on the Wynn. It’ll be 20 feet taller, and it will have a novel design.” He jokes, or maybe not, of re-creating the famous TV commercial where Wynn was set atop his own hotel via helicopter.

Certainly, if these grand designs are fully realized, the new hotel will be towering, in its stature and provenance. The Doumanis are a family long famous in Las Vegas. Lorenzo’s uncle Fred was known as “The Landlord” at the Tropicana in the 1970s, and the family also owned La Concha on the Strip (Lorenzo’s father, Ed, was the original owner). Lorenzo Doumani helped arrange for the delivery of the famed building to the Neon Museum, where it serves as that attraction’s lobby.

Doumani also is the landlord of the property on which the Peppermill sits. In 2007, when he was head of Majestic Resorts, he executed a sale of the 5.4 acres between Peppermill and Riviera on the Strip to Triple Five for $180 million, or $33 million an acre (Triple Five is now attempting to sell that land for about half that price, $16 million an acre).

Doumani is not yet ready to specify what is in store on Convention Center Drive. The anticipated expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the east and Genting Group’s Vegas Resorts World of Las Vegas on the Strip to the west will create a natural tourist corridor for this new hotel.

“We’re timing our opening to coincide with the Convention Center and Resorts World,” Doumani says. “I feel within three years of the implosion, we’ll be open, which would be by December 2017.”

What to call this resort? Doumani owes to the obvious.

“I like the Doumani, or Doumani’s,” he says, smiling. “It’s a possible name, maybe.”

If nothing else, it is the front-runner. Check in after the implosion.