The North (Strip) Shall Rise Again By Christopher G. Axelrod July 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm “Head north to find the action” may soon be the new creed of Las Vegas tourism, but does the north end of the strip actually have the potential to become the new south? Considering the explosion of new projects and attractions that will define the true north and appeal to younger masses, the change is more reality than marketing hype. Has the south done anything to drive guests away? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary, it has done much to satiate the endless and diverse appetites of both old and new tourism. Still, the growing number of tourists in Las Vegas includes many younger global visitors who seek more non-gaming options with easy access from the street. These new visitors arrive armed with mobile devices and credit from their professional careers. They do not seek their parent’s nostalgic Las Vegas, but want to discover and declare their own, new, personal experiences. The north will better cater to their quest. The new SLS casino, opening on August 23, will breathe new young life into the site of the old Sahara. The developer, SBE Entertainment Group of Los Angeles, is well-versed in the meeting the demands of younger markets. The founder and C.E.O. is Sam Nazarian, a thirty-nine year old hospitality mogul. His vast hospitality holdings include many of the most popular LA-based night clubs, innovative restaurants, bars, and concert venues that target the under-40 market. The SLS hotel brand has been successful in top destination markets like New York City, South Beach, and Beverly Hills. More hotels are planned for new markets. The SLS Las Vegas is the first entry into the competitive casino market. The company is increasing their young-market appeal, and their odds of success, by bringing new retailers and brands to Las Vegas, like the casual designer clothier Fred Segal and the popular LA restaurant Umami Burger, along with two major night clubs in the north end of the strip. Its location on the monorail line will also deliver conventioneers to the SLS. On that same busy intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard is the new, twenty million dollar MGM concert and festival park called “The City of Rock”, an ideal name for a venue for global rock music revelers. This highly visible site will open in May of 2015 with the American debut of the famed “Rock in Rio” music festival, bringing top performers for a three-day inaugural music extravaganza. Parking for this 33 acre venue, with a capacity for 80,000 attendees, is a major concern for local interests. The Deuce public bus system is already planning increased service during events. The famed Bonanza gift store complex on the opposite corner is boldly and appropriately billed as “The World’s Largest Gift Shop”. The increasing volume of new shoppers from what will soon be a dominant intersection will most certainly be a bonanza for the complex. To the south of the “City of Rock” venue stands the Hilton Grand Vacation Club high-rise, relatively unheralded to date, flanked as it is on both sides by near-empty sites. This attractive hotel offers full in-suite amenities and, ultimately, the best overhead views of -and fast access to – the new “City of Rock” venue. I will wager that they will see a large increase in reservations once the new north is flourishing. Of course, music fans can always find more inexpensive rooms nearby at the famed MGM Circus Circus resort, opened in 1968 by famed Las Vegas bon-vivant developer Jay Sarno. In the planning phase, just to the south of Circus Circus, across from some Wynn properties, are 3,500 new and well-appointed luxury rooms and Asian cultural attractions at the massive “Resorts World” resort, at the site of the failed 2008 Echelon project. The Malaysian developer, The Genting Group, boasts that this is where “old China meets new China”. The plans are spectacular and offer the newest and finest celebrating Asian culture; discussions have even mentioned a giant panda exhibit at this multi-billion dollar themed resort. The sheer magnitude of the property will make it a major attraction on the north end of the strip. These significant projects make the iconic Stratosphere into the new anchor to the north, with a new border at the cross street of St. Louis. The many themed-wedding chapels and small retailers along with the thriving Pawn Stars Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home to the popular cable TV show “Pawn Stars”, will now seem within easy walking distance for northern strip tourism. The younger tourist mindset of exploration, special events, unique dining, and boutique retail, mixed with new day and night clubs will deliver the much-sought-after new Las Vegas experience. Digital devices, “selfie” photos, and social media sites will be the viral tools to spread the word about the north’s offerings, accelerating patronage. Attractions attract people and people attract people. These cash and credit-laden young mobs will further impact overall tourism numbers because of their satisfaction in discovering a “new” Las Vegas. This new northern excitement will still benefit the south. Las Vegas understands, more than most major cities, that the cliche of a “rising tide floats all ships” genuinely is true for tourism. It’s a safe bet that by 2017 the Las Vegas strip from north to south will be thriving together as winners.