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LAS VEGAS-The vertical ascent of the Cosmopolitan Resort Casino is under way. Now rising out of the 85-foot hole created for the underground parking garage, the $3-billion mega resort and casino is set to open in 2009 at Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue, adjacent to the Bellagio.

The development includes 3,000 condo-hotel units; 300,000 sf of retail; a 75,000-sf casino; an 1,800-seat theater; 150,000 sf of meeting space; multiple night clubs; a five-acre “beach club” and; a 3,900-space underground parking garage. In total, there will be four million sf of development.

The condo-hotel units will be housed in a pair of 53-story, 600-foot-tall glass and concrete towers atop a five level podium that will house the casino, meeting space and theater. The retail space will front the Las Vegas Strip and be filled with brand-name retail shops.

The developer is 3700 Associates LLC, which is led by Ian Bruce Eichner, a well-known developer in Miami and New York, and gaming developer David Friedman, who helped finance and develop the Venetian. Their money partner is an affiliate of Dune Capital Management LP, which is controlled by Steven Mnuchin, the former CEO of SFM Capital Management LP, a Soros Fund Management LLC affiliate and investment advisor to Soros Credit and SFM Capital.

Dune provided the majority of the capital to, and is the managing member of, 3700 Associates. 3700 Associates secured $415 million in initial construction funding from Deutsche Bank last January. Perini Building is the general contractor.

Last week’s ceremony to fete the project rising out of the parking garage included pouring sake over the first piece of vertical steel–50-foot-tall, 60,000-pound box girder. Steel fabricator JFE Engineering of Tokyo considers it bad luck not to do it.

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