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LAS VEGAS-The locally based Boyd Gaming Corp. and General Growth Properties Inc. of Chicago have unveiled plans for a $500-million, 300,000-sf retail project that would be part of the gaming firm’s $4-billion, 87-acre Echelon development at the site of the former Stardust casino. The deal, announced as thousands of retail industry professionals and developers gathered here for the ICSC’s annual spring meeting, calls for General Growth to contribute $100 million to the 50-50 joint venture and for Boyd to contribute the above-ground air rights and real estate interest necessary to develop the project.

The partners describe the retail development as a promenade of upscale boutiques, cafes, restaurants and shops. Bob Boughner, president and CEO of Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Resorts, says that the gaming company has aligned itself with General Growth to take advantage of the Chicago-based mall owner and developer’s operating experience and tenant relationships, which he says “will be critical” to delivering the retail project as an anchor within the Echelon masterplan.

General Growth joins a list of international operators and brands that Boyd Gaming has brought together to develop Echelon. The group includes Morgans Hotel Group, which is developing the Delano and Mondrian hotels in a joint venture with Boyd Gaming; Shangri-La Hotels, the leading luxury hotel brand in Asia; and entertainment producer AEG Live.

Echelon Place will be a complex of hotels, casinos, entertainment venues and shopping that is scheduled to open in 2010. In addition to the shopping promenade that is being developed with General Growth, the plan includes 5,300 rooms in four hotels, a 140,000-sf casino, theaters, spas and convention space.

In March demolition specialist LVI Services Inc. imploded the 48-year-old 1,500-room Stardust casino resort’s two towers on the Las Vegas Strip on behalf of Boyd Gaming. In all, LVI’s Las Vegas subsidiary was engaged to demolish 27 structures and remediate the 63-acre site in preparation for Echelon Place.

General Growth already has four retail centers in Las Veas as part of its portfolio of more than 200 shopping centers in 45 states. These include the Fashion Show and the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, and GGP will soon acquire the Shoppes at the Palazzo, also at the Venetian, opening in early 2008. In 2009, it will open Summerlin Centre, a mixed-use development featuring 1.2 million sf of retail in the Summerlin master-planned community on the west rim of the Las Vegas Valley.

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