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LAS VEGAS-Echelon Place officially got under way on Tuesday. The 87-acre development site immediately south of Circus Circus is slated to hold approximately 5,000 hotel rooms, 750,000 sf of convention and meeting space, 300,000 sf of retail, two live entertainment venues, 30 dining and nightlife venues and a 140,000-sf casino.

The total estimated development cost is $4.8 billion, up from a previous estimate of $4.4 billion. Initial completion for 65 of the 87 acres is slated for the third quarter 2010. The executive designer is BLT Architects. The contractor is Tishman Construction. As part of the ground-breaking event, new renderings of the project were released, including the image above.

Within the overall Echelon Place development will be Echelon Resort. To be wholly owned by Boyd, Echelon Resort is slated to include 3,000 of the 5,000 rooms in two high-rise towers, Hotel Echelon and the Suites at Echelon, 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, 300,000 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, the Delano and Mondrian Las Vegas, and has inked a management agreement with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for the third, Shangri-La Las Vegas. The retail is being developed in a promenade format by a partnership of Boyd and General Growth Properties.

Boyd’s Hotel Echelon will have 2,500 guest rooms and suites. Amenities will include a two-story luxury spa, salon, barbershop, a comprehensive fitness center and lushly landscaped pools and gardens. The Suites at Echelon will be a 650 all-suite hotel with a separate entrance and porte cochere. Suites will range in size from 800 sf to over 7,000 sf.

Morgans’ Mondrian and Delano hotels will feature approximately 860 and 550 rooms respectively, with a diverse collection of rooms, suites, lofts and bungalows. Each hotel will feature its own porte cochere, lobby, destination restaurants, nightlife venues, pools and gardens and will have direct access to the gaming, retail, dining and entertainment offerings of Echelon.

Shangri-La Las Vegas will include 282 guest rooms and 71 premium suites with a distinctive porte cochere and hotel lobby. There will be 14 guest rooms per floor. Amenities include a 20,000-sf CHI spa, meeting space and two feature restaurants.

The retail promenade will feature a mix of luxury boutiques, international brands, cafes and restaurants. The two theaters will be operated by AEG, whose venues include The O2 in London and O2 World in Berlin, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Nokia Theater in New York City.

The slate for Echelon Place was wiped clean earlier this year by LVI Services Inc., which demolished 27 structures including the main Stardust hotel tower, a 32-story, 1,500-room structure that among other things was the setting for the award-winning Hollywood movie “Casino.”

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