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LAS VEGAS-With Bruce Willis in tow, the group transforming the former Aladdin property here into the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino revealed additional detail about the project this week. In addition to the resorts renovation and re-branding, which is well under way, construction has started for twin 50-story, 1,200-unit timeshare condo-hotel towers that will complement the existing 2,600-room resort come 2009. As well, another group is in the midst of a makeover of the adjoining 475,000-sf Desert Passage Shops into the Miracle Mile Shops.

The development group behind the $1-billion Planet Hollywood endeavor includes Douglas P. Teitelbaum, Robert I. Earl and Theodore W. Darnall. Earl is one of the founders of Planet Hollywood. Teitelbaum is a managing principal of Bay Harbour Management LLC of New York, a company that is in the business of turning around distressed operations. Darnell is an officer with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which will run the hotel under the Sheraton flag. The group announced in September 2004 that it was acquiring the Aladdin property out of bankruptcy for $635 million with plans to transform it into Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

As part of the renovation and re-branding of the Aladdin, the old resort is getting a new facade, new slot machines, renovated hotel rooms and a new layout for the casino floor that will include more restaurants. In addition, the casino’s 7,000-seat showroom has been reconfigured as two spaces, one with seating for 3,200 and another with seating for 1,300.

A source at Planet Hollywood tells GlobeSt.com that 95% of the resorts interior public areas have been renovated and that renovation of the first 600 hotel rooms is just getting started. “We anticipate the room and the exterior renovations will be complete ahead of the grand opening, which is scheduled for September 27-28,” she says.The Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino eventually will have 2,600 movie-themed rooms and suites, a new poker room and, coming this summer, the Pink’s Race and Sports Book Lounge. Also opening this summer will be several new restaurants, including Strip House, an upscale Steakhouse chain from New York; KOI, which harkens from Los Angeles; Yolos, a neo-Mexican restaurant; Alfredo of Rome, serving traditional Italian fare; and a deli chain called Earl of Sandwich. Existing restaurants include a P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Spice Market Buffet.

Nightlife at the resort includes the Extra Lounge, named for the entertainment news magazine that keeps its Las Vegas headquarters on property; Heart Bar, located in the center of the casino floor; and, Living Room, a lounge. Future venues include the Prive nightclub, which is nearing its opening and opening this fall, a third club by the Opium Group. Other amenities include The Chapel, a place for weddings; Planet Hollywood Spa, which is run by Mandara; and the six-floor pool deck, which has two over-sized pools, hot tubs, and a seasonal café.

The exterior makeover of the Shops at Desert Passage will be complete by May 1, when it is scheduled to reopen as Miracle Mile Shops. The interior renovation is slated for completion early next year.

Co-owner David Edelstein said last year that the mall was more of a “deserted passage” when his company Tri-Star Capital and RFR Holding, collectively known as Boulevard Invest LLC, made the $200-million-plus purchase of the center in 2004 from Chicago-based Trizec Properties shortly before the owners of the Aladdin declared bankruptcy and relinquished its assets to Planet Hollywood.

When it changed hands, Shops at Desert Passage was languishing thanks to 95,000 sf of vacant space, poor space configurations and several disgruntled tenants. Sales were averaging $400-plus per sf, which is solid performance for most markets but a problem in Vegas, where rents are much higher and sales at the competition–Forum Shops at Caesars or the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian–post average yearly sales of $1,000 per sf.

News of the impending interior and exterior improvements to both the retail and the hotel improved performance. Vacancy is now back down into the single digits and sales are rising. Edelstein told GlobeSt.Retail last year that he expects sales will exceed $800 per sf once the renovations are complete this year.

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