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LAS VEGAS-The owners of the Shops in Desert Passage have begun a $50-million makeover of the 475,000-sf shopping center. The goal is to have the new look complement the adjoining Aladdin Hotel & Casino’s conversion to the Planet Hollywood brand.

Desert Passage has 170 specialty stores, 15 restaurants and live entertainment. The owner is Boulevard Invest, a joint venture of Tri-Star Capital and RFR Holdings, both based in New York. The JV paid Trizec Properties $240.5 million for the property in late 2004.

The ownership has retained for the makeover the architectural firms Gensler of Nevada and the locally based Friedmutter Group, in conjunction with construction group Flagship Construction Co. The exterior renovations will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2006 and the interior improvements will be completed in phases through the second quarter of 2007.

Gensler will redesign the center’s interior and Friedmutter Group will be in charge of the exterior makeover. The goal of the interior work is to make it more user friendly. Planned enhancements include new flooring, brighter interior lighting, new storefronts and a completely new interior look. The renovation also includes the addition of an interactive directional system to help shoppers navigate the facility.

The exterior renovations include adding people movers for better access into the mall. Other enhancements include a backlit sidewalk water feature and LED video offering continuous streaming imagery. Additionally, the mall’s entrances and existing retail locations have new floor-to-ceiling glass vestibule doors and storefronts.

The general contractor for the project, Flagship Construction Co., is currently working on the first phase of the exterior portion of the project, which focuses on the center’s north façade area. Related Cos., the manager of the property, is overseeing the makeover on behalf of Boulevard Invest.

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