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LAS VEGAS-Two of the three hotel towers at the Sahara here are temporarily being shut down in response to a lack of demand. Featured in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” film starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, the 1,720-room hotel-casino covers 18 acres fronting the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

A publicist for the property tells GlobeSt.com that the rooms in the two oldest towers are being darkened until demand picks back up, and its buffet also will close temporarily. The 1,100-room, 27-story Tangiers Tower, completed in 1988, will remain open along with the casino, she says.

“This happened last year as well,” she says. “When there’s an increase in demand we will be reopening the towers and the buffet.”

The Sahara is owned by SBE Entertainment Group LLC of Los Angeles and San Francisco-based Stockbridge Real Estate Funds. The duo acquired the property for between $300 million and $400 million in August 2007. In early 2008, it won approval for a major renovation and expansion of the property that calls for demolition of the property’s 200-unit mid-rise hotel tower, renovation of the two high-rise towers and development of a third high-rise tower with 1,000 rooms. Completion was slated for 2011 but those plans are currently on hold due to the recession.

News of the temporary closure of the two older towers comes two weeks after Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas said it would shut down all 365 of its hotel rooms indefinitely this week in response to a recession-induced decrease in business, which it did. The property owner, TLC Casino Enterprises Inc., also owns the adjacent Four Queens Resort & Casino, which has nearly 700 hotel rooms that will not be shuttered.

The casino and sports book and poker room on the ground floor of Binion’s will remain open as will the steakhouse on the 24th floor and other casual dining outlets, a spokesperson old GlobeSt.com at the start of the month, but a basement coffee shop also will close and a small keno operation also will be discontinued. The closures are being timed to a seasonal lull that typically follows the Nationals Finals Rodeo, which concluded Dec. 12.

With the average daily room rate plummeting and gaming revenue down significantly due to fewer tourists spending less money, the spokesperson told GlobeSt.com that TLC had to look at its costs, identify the “biggest drains” and make some “unfortunate but necessary decisions in order to keep the remaining property operational.”

“We plan to reopen the rooms, we just can’t speculate as to when,” she said.

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