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LAS VEGAS-East Village is not New York, New York, even though it is master-minded by the same team that, in partnership with MGM Mirage, developed the $490-million New York, New York hotel and casino that arguably transformed the Strip. “East Village is a wonderful neighborhood experience,” says Mark Advent, chairman of Eighth Wonder and one of a trio of East Village Partners, which is developing this new Las Vegas neighborhood.

East Village is a one-million-sf retail, entertainment, office development planned for a 44-acre parcel located at the northwest corner of Tropicana Boulevard and Paradise Road, across from McCarran International Airport, about a mile east of the Strip. The partnership, which also includes Mark Vlassopulos and Stephen Chen, acquired the leasehold interest in the nearly vacant parcel from Phoenix-based ILX Resorts Inc. for $18 million. McCarran International owns the land. Beverly Hills-based Canyon Capital Realty Advisors provided a $25 million bridge loan for the acquisition and start-up planning.

At a construction cost of $225 million, the parcel will become East Village. In all, it will contain 700,000 sf of retail/restaurant space, “split about two-thirds retail and one-third restaurant,” Advent says, plus 250,000 sf of office space and an entertainment zone that includes “a large, state-of-the-art banquet space.” The banquet facility, equipped with high-tech a/v and teleconferencing capabilities, will be available for rent to groups.

Again taking its cue from New York City, the entertainment zone will be called the Meatpacking District. It will contain a cluster of bistros and night clubs alongside the special events center. Advent says East Village Partners projects revenue from the entertainment zone at $300 million a year.

In addition, there will be a 1,500-seat theater in the round, which will permanently feature Joe Labero, whom Advent describes as “the most amazing magician in the world.” Labero hails from Sweden, and “we’re creating a show and a theater around him,” Advent says, adding, “it will contain and Ice Bar,” that is a bar made of ice, “and a cigar collection.”

There will also be the Grand Central Market, a 70,000-sf food market. “We’re in negotiations with a well known culinary institute,” Advent says, “to create a gourmet food exhibition area with cooking demonstrations, classes and a restaurant facility.”

A Diamond District, patterned after the one on 48th Street in Manhattan, is also planned to contain about 16 different diamond and jewelry retailers. This is a feature Advent says Las Vegas doesn’t have and would be welcomed by tourists and residents alike. As for the other retail space, all integrated with restaurants, Advent says, “there will be the kinds of stores you see in SoHo and Melrose Place, “a blend of national and regional retailers from the middle to high end of the market, although you might also find a tattoo parlor,” he adds.

Ian Thomas of Thomas Consulting in Vancouver, conducted a market and merchandise assessment. “It will be very eclectic and vibrant,” Advent says. “What we don’t want is to make East Village another same old, same old lifestyle center or regional mall experience.” Zack Hussain of the local office of CB Richard Ellis is heading up the leasing effort. Rental rates, according to Advent, are in a range of between $35 per sf and $50 per sf. “Pre-leasing is well underway,” he adds, but declines to name names before East Village is unveiled at ICSC.

While East Village is conceived as “an active pedestrian experience,” Advent says, “it will also provide for vehicular traffic, so people can drive to a store or restaurant,” and there will be parking for 5,000 cars in a mix of underground and surface spaces. Horse-drawn carriages will also take visitors from place to place, and, in another nod to NYC, there will be mounted security police.

A monorail is planned to shuttle visitors back and forth from the Strip, and East Village also plans to capture arriving and departing tourists with a McCarran International check-in terminal. “This is tourists’ first and last stop,” Advent explains, “and our hope is that people will be able to drop off their bags and check in for their flights, then enjoy dining and shopping here before their departure.” Advent acknowledges that today’s airport security requirements will make this difficult, but not impossible, to accomplish and says McCarran approves of the plan.

East Village is designed for both Las Vegas residents and tourists, “especially those looking for an alternative shopping and dining experience,” Advent says. “A lot of people don’t like the Strip retail, restaurant experience. We think the feel of a vibrant neighborhood will have wide appeal, and we expect a lot of repeat visitors-–both local and tourists. We’re within three miles of 100,000 hotel rooms, plus the explosive growth of the Las Vegas population,” he points out. East Village will break ground early next year, and the opening is planned for 2007.

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