Former Riviera Land Sold for $125 Million, Future Unknown for North Strip Property
The 10 acres of land on which the Riviera partially stood for 60 years will soon have a new owner after being shopped since early 2019.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) approved selling the Strip frontage on Tuesday for $125 million — or $12.5 million per acre — to real estate developers Brett Torino and Paul Kanavos.
The businessmen are no strangers to Las Vegas. They co-developed Harmon Corner, an enclosed three-story shopping mall located at the northeast corner of the Strip at Harmon Ave. Harmon Corner tenants include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Rainforest Café, Sugar Factor, and Walgreens.
The Riv stood on 26 acres in total. The 10 acres set to be owned by Torino and Kanavos spans from the Strip eastward just north of the Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge across from Resorts World Las Vegas. The property stretches nearly to the Las Vegas Convention Center at the Siegel Select Convention Center motel.
Torino and Kanavos aren’t sure, or at least aren’t saying publicly, what they plan to do with their forthcoming Strip land. The LVCVA says the deal must close by September 11, or the property will be relisted.
It wouldn’t be the first time. The LVCVA, in October 2021, reached an agreement with Chilean billionaire Claudio Fischer to sell him the land for $120 million. Fischer, who owns casinos across South America, said in early 2023 that he was abandoning the purchase because high-interest rates no longer made the acquisition attractive. Fischer paid the LVCVA a $7 million separation fee.
The LVCVA acquired the Riviera through bankruptcy in February 2015 for $182.5 million. The government tourism agency spent $42 million demolishing the former Rat Pack hangout to make way for its Convention Center’s expansion.
Ten of the Riv’s 26 acres weren’t needed for the West Hall project but served as a construction staging area. With construction complete, the 10 acres are no longer needed.
The LVCVA plans to modernize the Convention Center’s North, Central, and South halls to bring the facilities up to speed with the new West Hall through a $597 million refreshing.
Torino and Kanavos said they find the former Riviera land attractive because of its close proximity to the Convention Center. They told the LVCVA that they don’t know what the future holds for the property but suggested a possible retail and entertainment complex with a nongaming hotel.
Drawing Pedestrians North
For many years, the Strip’s northern end has been in desperate need of attractions that bring pedestrians north past Wynn. The June 2021 opening of the $4.3 billion Resorts World was a major development in that mission. But foot traffic in the area remains considerably less than the most popular spots on the southern end, including Caesars Palace and the Bellagio.
Rumors are circulating that the Fontainebleau is headed for yet further pushback to its years-long delayed opening. Officials at Resorts World and Circus Circus and the development team at Fontainebleau might find that Torino and Kanavos aren’t initially considering a casino but an entertainment and shopping destination instead as positive news.
“I would imagine that the plans Brett and Paul have for the property are appealing to their neighbors,” said LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill. “But even when it’s a directly competitive property, any property within walking distance helps create a critical mass that raises the tide for everybody’s boat.”