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W Las Vegas resort project canceled

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A high-profile condominium-casino project slated for almost 50 acres just off the Las Vegas Strip has been canceled, making it the second resort project to fizzle on the site.

Project developer Edge Group confirmed Friday that its W Las Vegas on Harmon Avenue "could not overcome numerous significant challenges" after minority partner Starwood Hotel and Resorts Worldwide pulled out of the deal.

Edge Group first proposed the project in 2005 as a posh resort on 22 acres it purchased from home builder D.R. Horton for $108 million. It was billed as a $2.5 billion mixed-use project with 3,000 hotel-condominium units, 10 restaurants and nightclubs, a 75,000-square-foot casino, 300,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, a Fred Segal store and a spa.

In June 2006, the group expanded its plans to a "coordinated, two-casino experience" when it picked up another 25 acres from the canceled project next door - actor George Clooney's Las Ramblas. Clooney, night club magnate Rande Gerber and Related Las Vegas sold the plot and entitlements for their failed condo-casino venture to Edge Group for $202 million.

Edge Group had little experience in the casino business. The group briefly owned the Bourbon Street hotel-casino in 2004 before selling it to Harrah's Entertainment Inc.

A Starwood pullout had been rumored since late last year, but Edge officials maintained in the past few months that the project was proceeding and cited a $10 million investment by Starwood last year as proof.

Project Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Reagan Silber said in December that the company had hired financial consulting firm Credit Suisse to seek a joint-venture partner to join Edge Resorts and Starwood on the project. He said rising construction costs and the extra land required a third party.

Edge spokeswoman Maggie Feldman said company officials would not comment further on plans to sell the land and assets.

John Knott, executive vice president of the Global Gaming Group for CB Richard Ellis, said the land might fetch $12 million an acre if sold whole, or $17 million to $20 million an acre if broken up.

"It's just an absolutely prime piece of real estate," he said.

An e-mail statement from Edge said all condominium reservation deposits have been returned to the buyers. The company had held reservation agreements, but no hard contracts, for 750 units.



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