Howard Hughes Holdings’ New Las Vegas Casino on the Horizon

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Howard Hughes Holdings (HHH) is very likely looking to develop a new casino in Las Vegas. It recently created a spin-off, called Seaport Entertainment, to manage its New York and Las Vegas assets, which includes an 80% stake in a planned building project above the Fashion Show Mall (pictured) on the Las Vegas Strip.

Seaport has appointed former CityCenter casino chief operating officer and president Anton Nikodemus to oversee the project. Nikodemus is a veteran casino executive, having worked with various famous Nevada casino venues over his 30-year career.

Seaport will also now operate the Las Vegas Aviators minor league baseball team, and the ownership of the Jean-Georges Restaurants chain, which has branches in Las Vegas.

Howard Hughes Holdings is a Texas-based real estate developer which owns and operates high end residential communities across the country, including in Summerlin, Nevada.

It takes its name from legendary 1950s businessman Howard Hughes, from whom it acquired business assets when Hughes died in 1976. Hughes was a famously idiosyncratic yet influential figure in Las Vegas during the 1960s, owning various casinos, hotels, and media operations.

“Howard Hughes Holdings Inc. is establishing Seaport Entertainment with the intention of completing its spin-off as a publicly traded company by year-end 2024,” said a company press release.

“The planned separation of Seaport Entertainment from Howard Hughes will refine the identity of HHH as a pure-play real estate company focused solely on its portfolio of acclaimed master planned communities.”

Quality Entertainment Assets

Clark County has not yet received a formal proposal for the casino project, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not conducted any aeronautical studies related to the Fashion Show property.

However, two studies on the block north of Fashion Show have been conducted, determining that a building up to 640 feet could be constructed without disrupting aviation operations. While developers must allow the FAA to evaluate proposed structures near airports, Clark County could potentially issue a building permit for a taller building, navigating federal law.

Seaport Entertainment is not only eyeing the casino project, but is also set to manage the operations of the Las Vegas Aviators baseball team and Howard Hughes Holdings’ stake in Jean-Georges Restaurants, which has several locations, including two in Las Vegas.

Leading Seaport Entertainment is Anton Nikodemus, a former executive of MGM Resorts International, who will assume the role of CEO.

Nikodemus brings a wealth of experience, having previously served as the president and COO of CityCenter for MGM Resorts, overseeing operations for establishments such as The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Vdara, and the Aria. He also played a pivotal role in the development of MGM Resort’s Maryland and Massachusetts casino venues, MGM National Harbor Hotel just outside D.C., and MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.

“Anton is an outstanding leader in the entertainment and resort world. It speaks to the quality of our entertainment assets that we have been able to recruit an executive of his caliber to Howard Hughes,” said Bill Ackman, chairman of the board of Howard Hughes Holdings Inc.

Project Details Unclear for Now

Despite the buzz, specifics regarding the potential casino project, including its size and time line, remain under wraps.

Howard Hughes Holdings, Fashion Show, owned by Brookfield Properties, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board have all declined to comment further on the plans.

The Fashion Show Mall opened in 1981 and is still popular to this day. It is the largest shopping destination in Las Vegas, so any development there could cause significant disruption – but also potential payoff.

The details might not be clear on this project for now, but Las Vegas has two new casinos ready to open this year. The long-delayed Fontainebleau Las Vegas, currently unopen but still the tallest hotel tower on the Las Vegas Strip, is set to open in December. Meanwhile, Durango Casino resort, just on the edge of of Las Vegas proper, was recently approved for its November opening by Nevada regulators.

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