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LAS VEGAS-Fontainebleau Resorts LLC has attracted Howard C. Karawan as its chief operating officer. The former Kerzner International president’s charges include overseeing the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas being built on the Strip here as well as the $500-million renovation of Fontainebleau Miami Beach. He also will be responsible for marketing, human resources, retail and information technology initiatives.

While with Kerzner, Karawan directed the development of Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas and worked on project planning for the company’s Dubai Atlantis project. He also directed the ongoing strategy for Kerzner’s high-end chain of One & Only resorts.

Construction began earlier this year for Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a 63-story, 3,889-room resort, condo-hotel, casino and entertainment resort that is slated to open this time next year. The 25-acre development includes restaurants and retail shops, a 60,000-sf spa, 3,200-seat performing arts theater, meeting space and a large rooftop pool and club scene.

Fontainebleau Resorts is led by its majority owner Jeffrey Soffer, who also heads the Turnberry group of companies, owner of the Turnberry Place, Signature at MGM Grand and Town Square developments in Las Vegas, the Aventura Mall and Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in South Florida, and the Residences at Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas. Fontainebleau’s executive chairman Glenn Schaeffer was formerly the president of Mandalay Resort Group. Soffer and Schaeffer co-founded Fontainebleau after Mandalay was sold in early 2005 to MGM Mirage.

In June, to fund the Las Vegas development and other projects, Fontainebleau Resorts closed on more than $4 billion of financing from a consortium led by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Barclays. As part of the financing arrangement, Fontainebleau raised $565 million in private placements of common and preferred equity. That total includes $250 million it obtained in April from Australia-based Publishing & Broadcasting Limited in exchange for the 19.6% interest in the company.

The Las Vegas project suffered a setback last month when part of a multi-story parking structure on the site collapsed. Work on the parking structure was halted pending an investigation as to why the floors gave way, though construction on the hotel tower continued. It is unclear what was discovered in the investigation and whether work has resumed on the parking structure; Fontainebleau did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The incident came less than a week after a worker at the site died after falling from atop a 30-foot wall. Two other workers were injured in that accident.

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