LAS VEGAS-The Stardust is getting harder to see from the freeway these days. With most of its innards and windows salvaged, one can look right through the structure before noticing it. Come March, it won’t be visible at all.

The implosion of the 48-year-old, 1,500-room casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip is scheduled to take place in the middle of the night in the middle of March, a source at Boyd Gaming tells The company isn’t saying exactly when the implosion will take place for crowd control purposes, but says it plans to capture the event on tape.

In its 80-acre place will rise Eschelon Place, a $4-billion complex of hotels, casinos, entertainment venues and shopping that is scheduled to open in 2010. The plan includes 5,300 rooms in four hotels, a 140,000-sf casino, theaters, a shopping promenade, spas and convention space.

Within the $4-billion Eschelon Place will be the $2.9-billion Echelon Resort, which would be wholly owned by Boyd. Echelon Resort will include 3,300 of the 5,300 rooms in two high-rise towers, each with its own full-service spa, as well as the casino, two theaters (one with 4,000 seats and the other with 1,500 seats), 25 restaurants and bars, and a pool area.

The rest of Echelon Place would be developed via joint ventures and include three additional hotels, a 750,000-sf outpost of the Las Vegas ExpoCenter, another 200,000 sf of retail space, and several more restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The property also will have covered parking for 8,000 vehicles.

Boyd Gaming has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with the Morgans Hotel Group for two of the Echelon Place hotels, which will cost about $700 million, and has inked a management agreement with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for the third. As for the project’s retail component, at last check Boyd was in discussions with potential strategic partners for a 50/50 joint venture development.

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