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LAS VEGAS-El-Ad Group, owners of the Plaza Hotel in New York City and would-be developer of a multi-billion dollar resort on the Las Vegas Strip with the same branding, has emerged victorious from a jury trial over its use of the name. The Israel-based conglomerate was sued by Tamares Real Estate, the Lichtenstein-based owner of a low-budget hotel in Downtown Las Vegas that has also used the word Plaza for its hotel.

The jury was asked by Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez to determine whether Tamares or the previous owners of the existing Plaza hotel in Las Vegas had proven that they had used the name before 1986, which is when the previous owners of the Plaza Hotel had obtained its federal trademark registrations. “The answer was no,” a source with the Court tells GlobeSt.com. Online access to the lawsuit has been restricted since it went to trial.

“The new Plaza Las Vegas will occupy a magnificent complex in a prime location on the Strip–building on the traditions and heritage of its iconic namesake, the Plaza Hotel in New York,” El-Ad Group president Mike Naftali said in a prepared statement. The 34.5-acre development is currently slated to open in 2012 across from Wynn Las Vegas.

El-Ad’s $1.25-billion land acquisition for the project of was first announced in May 2007. El-Ad subsequently brought on a partner, Property and Building Corp. Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Tel Aviv-based IDB Development Corp., Israel’s largest business group. In March 2008, the joint venture formed for the $8-billion project, El-Ad IDB Las Vegas LLC, received approvals for its site development plan and special use permit from the Clark County Commission. At the time, the JV said design completion and the start of the excavation is scheduled to occur before the end of 2008.

Naftali told GlobeSt.com earlier this month through a representative that the project would be delayed for several months. He also confirmed that its payments on $625 million of acquisition debt from Goldman Sachs Group and Credit Suisse Group have been deferred to May 2009.

Thirty months after excavation begins, Naftali says the site will include seven high-rise towers atop a mid-rise podium. The structures will house 4,100 hotel rooms; 2,600 condominium units; 175,900 sf of gaming; 480,000 sf of retail and restaurant space; 539,607 sf of convention space; a 50,000 sf health club; a 1,500-seat theater; and 227,038-sf of recreation space for pools and other amenities.

“The delay is to allow us time plan and ensure the plans are fully complete and that all bids are in before construction can begin,” Naftali said. “Unlike other projects that build and plan as they go, The Plaza wants to be as efficient as possible so they are mapping out all the plans and getting all the bids before beginning excavation.”

El-Ad recently settled out of court another lawsuit related to the Plaza Las Vegas project. Resort Properties of America owner David Atwell, the broker who initiated the land acquisition, sued El-Ad in June 2007 for $12.5 million, the 1% brokerage fee he felt he was owed for initiating the transaction between El-Ad Group, which is controlled by Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva and Wichita billionaire Phil Ruffin. The lawsuit was settled last month for an undisclosed amount, though Atwell told GlobeSt.com “it is a considerable number.”

With regard to the Plaza name issue, Atwell tells GlobeSt.com that when El-Ad originally approached his company regarding the property,”old Plaza Hotel downtown never even came into the discussion; I don’t think they were ever aware of it.”

Despite his tussle with El-Ad, Atwell is fond of their project and happy the company will be able to use the Plaza name. “I’m sure when things turn around, we’ll see this fabulous Plaza project,” he says. “It may be the finest ever built in Las Vegas and I’m glad they prevailed.”

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