Las Vegas developer closes $80M deal for Strip parcel

By Eli Segall | Published originally in the Las Vegas Review-Journal | Jun. 19th, 2021

After the coronavirus outbreak upended daily life, turning the Strip into a ghost town of shuttered casinos and boarded-up buildings, Las Vegas developer Brett Torino said he started talks to buy a site for another project in the eerily quiet resort corridor.

A year or so later, Torino has now acquired a small plot in CityCenter for a huge sum with plans to build a retail complex. And with vaccines rolling out, and daily life starting to return to normal, Southern Nevada’s once-crushed tourism industry has started rapidly coming back to life.

“You’re seeing this recovery play out really quickly in this market,” Torino said.

Torino and New York developer Flag Luxury Group partnered on a deal, announced April 26, to acquire 2 acres at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue, next to luxury mall Shops at Crystals, for around $80 million.

The sale — by MGM Resorts International and its partner in the sprawling CityCenter complex, government-owned holding company Dubai World — closed June 8, property records indicate.

The site was home to the now-dismantled, structurally flawed Harmon hotel tower and is across the intersection from Harmon Corner, a three-story retail complex that Torino and Flag Luxury developed about a decade ago.

Torino, owner of Torino Companies, said in an interview Tuesday that the new four-level project would span around 200,000 square feet and that he expects to open it by September 2022.

He is calling it Project63, saying he and Flag Luxury boss Paul Kanavos were both 63 years old when he named it but noting it could change.

Torino, who started working in Las Vegas’ real estate industry when he moved here in the early 1970s, sat down with the Review-Journal to discuss his newest plans for the Strip.

The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Did MGM put any restrictions on what you can do at the site?

We actually designed it hand in hand with all the folks at MGM and their partner, the Dubai group. CityCenter is a beautiful complex; they just wanted to be sure that what was on their doorstep was complementary to the rest of the facility. We bought it for that reason, and we completely respected it for that reason.

What else got you interested in the site?

I’ve been doing business on the Strip now for almost 30 years. Once you learn the business down there, it’s intriguing. It’s one of the most competitive real estate markets in the world. You’re dealing with people who are razor sharp. When COVID hit — I’ve known (MGM President and CEO) Bill Hornbuckle for 40 years now — I asked Bill, is there an opportunity to do something on your site? He put me in touch with their partner at Dubai World, and we started a discussion. I never thought MGM would sell it. I just figured it was part of the CityCenter complex, and I thought they would want to retain control of it.

Obviously, you didn’t get a discount on the deal; it was around $40 million an acre, which might be a record for a vacant property on the Strip. Talk about the purchase price and what that reflects.

Truth be told, there’s not a usable 2 acres on that site. However, the offset is, you have the whole underworld of CityCenter below that property. So, yes, a lot of money, yes, you’re not getting a usable 2 acres, but you have a whole bunch of infrastructure on the ground level – distribution facilities, trash facilities, parking, utilities. It’s part of a massive complex that we were getting plugged into.

Listing broker Michael Parks told me that not only can you lease out retail space at the site, but you can sell advertising space outside the building, like you do on the big LED screen at Harmon Corner. Is that something you plan to do at this project?

The existing board at Harmon Corner is about 18,000 square feet. This board, at Project63, will be between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet. The vision was, we’ll have two spectacular LED screens, so we have the ability to leverage our national customers and run advertising that’s parallel.

So you can sell space at the same time on both corners?


Can you talk about the tenants you hope to get at Project63? Would they be luxury retailers, like at Crystals, or more affordable shops?

It’s going to be one step up from Harmon Corner and probably a step down from Crystals. Harmon Corner is and was very successful for the tenant base that we have in there. Project63 is going to be an upgrade, but we don’t want to compete with Crystals. We’re over 50 percent preleased on 63 already, but I can’t start going into the names.

Long before the pandemic, brick-and-mortar retail was having a pretty hard time around the country, including in Las Vegas. Why does the Strip seem so different? Is it just because you have some many people walking around every day?

That’s one aspect of it. Retailers want flag opportunities on the Strip. They want that exposure; they’re willing to pay for it. During COVID, if you went into Crystals and looked at the luxury brands, there were lines of people waiting up to an hour, an hour and a half to get in the stores to shop. The average Las Vegas customer is going to come here, they’re going to spend those retail dollars. It’s just the nature. Las Vegas isn’t going away. COVID didn’t change it.

It certainly shut it down for a while.

Sure did. Absolutely. All our tenants stayed open on the Strip, but of course we had to give them help and we wanted to do whatever we could for them. But they’re coming back strong. In the worst of times, they were somewhere between a third and a half of their usual sales. Now their sales are back up to 2019 levels.

Did you ever take a walk or a drive along the Strip when everything was shut down just to see what it looked like? What do you remember thinking?

I hope we don’t see another one of these. It’s eerie. In a very surreal sense, it’s very beautiful, but as a businessperson, it isn’t very beautiful. I rode my bicycle up and down the Strip; it’s just a very eerie event.

Contact Eli Segall at [email protected] or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Stay informed! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

🌎🌿 Join the Movement! 🌿🌎

Kudos Julie Bodell! You and all your efforts are amazing and you're quite the overachiever. Planet earth loves you for it! 🌎 (everyone else, don’t be intimidated by the big 😊). There’s something about walking to work or to doesn’t just help the planet, it helps your physical mental and spiritual body too. Thanks for the love, Julie! 

We invite YOU to join the movement and post your own earth day challenge video! Share your photos and videos with us on any of our social media platforms, and we'll showcase them for the world to see. 📲 Don't forget to invite your friends to join in too! Together, we can create a positive impact and leave a healthier planet for future generations. 🌍 💚

Let's make every day Earth Day! 🌿✨ 

#CelebrateEarth #ReduceReuseRecycle #PlanetLove #earthday #ourearthourfuture #bretttorinofoundation #torinoranch
🌎🌿 Join the Movement! 🌿🌎

Thanks Jennifer Ty for launching our April Earth Day Challenge! We love your post and what a clever way to replace grass with wild flowers!! Your yard looks like a green oasis! Keep on loving our planet 🌎!

We invite YOU to join the movement and post your own earth day challenge video! Share your photos and videos with us on any of our social media platforms, and we'll showcase them for the world to see. 📲 Don't forget to invite your friends to join in too! Together, we can create a positive impact and leave a healthier planet for future generations. 🌍 💚

Let's make every day Earth Day! 🌿✨ 

#CelebrateEarth #ReduceReuseRecycle #PlanetLove #earthday #ourearthourfuture #bretttorinofoundation #torinoranch
An April Moment with the Founder
🌎🌿 Lovell Canyon Clean Up 🌿🌎

Join us, alongside Save Red Rock and our community friends, as we come together to remove litter from Lovell Canyon on Saturday, April 20, from 10 am to 2 pm. (Please ensure your arrival by noon, and feel free to depart whenever convenient).

Supplies including bags and gloves will be provided, along with refreshments courtesy of Whole Foods Market. For your comfort and safety, we recommend wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes, as well as bringing along sun protection, a water bottle, etc.

Presented by Brett Torino Foundation
Sponsored by Centennial Subaru

Saturday, April 20, 2024
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Lovell Canyon


Volunteer waivers will be available on-site for signature upon arrival. Please assemble at the Forest Service Kiosk located at the entrance to Lovell Canyon Road, off SR160. Check your confirmation email for additional instructions and details.

We hope to see you there!
🌎🌿 Join the Movement! 🌿🌎
Earth Day is an annual event on April 22nd, dedicated to demonstrating support for environmental protection. First established in 1970, it now engages over 1 billion people in more than 193 countries, coordinated globally by The official theme for 2024 is "Planet vs. Plastics."
At the heart of the Brett Torino Foundation lies the commitment to conserve precious lands like Lovell Canyon, nestled in the Spring Valley Mountain range just West of Las Vegas, NV. Through initiatives like the "Save Lovell Canyon" project launched in 2017, the canyon has become a haven for campers, hikers, bicyclists, and nature enthusiasts.
This April, we're extending the celebration of Earth Day throughout the month, and we want YOU to join us! 🎉 Let's show our planet some love by sharing ways we can make a difference and reduce our carbon footprint. 🌱
Here are some suggestions to get involved:


Or some other ‘go green’ ideas:

- 🌳 Plant trees and native plants to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, boost oxygen levels, and provide habitats for wildlife.
- 🐝 Support pollinators by creating habitats and avoiding harmful pesticides.
- 🚶‍♀️ Choose eco-friendly transportation options like walking, biking, or carpooling.
- 🥤 Say no to single-use plastics and opt for reusable water bottles and bags.
- 🌞 Embrace renewable energy sources such as solar power.
- ♻️ Recycle and compost to reduce waste and conserve resources.
But that's not all! 📸🎥 We want to see YOUR efforts in action! Share your photos and videos with us on any of our social media platforms, and we'll showcase them for the world to see. 📲 Don't forget to invite your friends to join in too! Together, we can create a positive impact and leave a healthier planet for future generations. 🌍💚
Let's make every day Earth Day! 🌿✨ 
#CelebrateEarth #ReduceReuseRecycle #PlanetLove
🌟 Spotlight Alert! 🌟 Meet Abby, our February shining star! 🌟
Abby is the epitome of resilience and talent. 🎭 She recently received the prestigious BTF Scholarship through her dedication and hard work with Nevada Childhood Cancer. 🎗️ But that's just the beginning of her incredible journey!
Abby's love for the performing arts knows no bounds, and her performances are truly enchanting. 🎶 Her infectious smile and genuine warmth illuminate every room she enters. 💖
Let's give Abby a round of applause for her achievements and for being such an inspiration to us all! 👏 Keep shining bright, Abby! ✨ #Spotlight #BTFscholarship #ChildhoodCancerAwareness #Inspiration @nvccf
🌟 Happy Random Act of Kindness Day! 🌟
Let's make today extra special by spreading joy throughout our communities! Whether it's lending a helping hand through volunteering, sharing a heartfelt compliment, or simply being there for someone in need, let's embrace the power of small acts. Together, we can make a big difference! 💖
Spread the love by sharing this post and inspiring others to join the kindness movement! Together, let's make the world a brighter place, one act of kindness at a time. #SpreadKindness #ShareTheLove #RandomActofKindnessDay #SpreadLove #Volunteer #KindnessMatters
💖 Happy Valentine's Day! 💖

Today, we celebrate love in all its forms. At Brett Torino Foundation, we believe in spreading love and making a positive difference in the world. And we know that YOU do too! 🌟

Tag someone you love and who shares your passion for giving back. Let's spread love, kindness, and generosity together! ❤️ #ValentinesDay #SpreadLove #GiveBack
A February Moment with the Founder
🌟 Exciting News! 🌟
Join us at Camp Cartwheel, a magical summer camp experience for children battling cancer! 🎗️ Happening June 19-22 at Torino Ranch, this is a chance for these brave kids to laugh, play, and create unforgettable memories.

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN! 📝 For children and volunteers - Deadline for applications is March 22nd.

Together with Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation (@nvccf), we're committed to bringing joy and hope. Let's make this summer one to remember! ☀️ Apply now at the NVCCF website. #CampCartwheel #ChildhoodCancerAwareness #SummerCamp2024 🏕️
🌟 We're thrilled to welcome Jessica "Jess" Anderson to the @nvccf team leading the Brett Torino Foundation Educational Services program. With a heart full of passion and dedication, she joins us ready to make a difference in the lives of our incredible children.  Jess has been a CCSD department head and teacher for five years and was recently honored as Teacher of the Year at her school. She has also volunteered at Camp Cartwheel for 12 years hosted at Torino Ranch. Let's give Jessica a warm welcome as we embark on this journey of success in education for our little superheroes! Together, we'll continue spreading hope, joy, and knowledge.🎗️ #Welcome #NewBeginnings #MakingADifference
We are proud to have partnered with @lvmpdfoundation for December Shop with a Cop. We would like to take this time to recognize all police officers who put their lives on the line every day and make our cities a better place to live. We salute you today. 🇺🇸 #NationalLawEnforcementAppreciationDay LVMPD Foundation
Today is #NationalTriviaDay and in honor of Moises "Bee Whisperer" at Torino Ranch - Do you know? 
Q: How do bees make honey? 🐝
A: Honey starts as flower nectar collected by bees, which gets broken down into simple sugars stored inside the honeycomb.
A December Moment with the Founder
🌟✨ Gratitude in Our Hearts, Joy in Our Souls! 🌟✨

#SeasonOfJoy #GratefulHearts #TogetherWeMakeADifference
Loving the warm holiday spirit @lvmpdfoundation  #shopwithacop event -  proud to be a first year sponsor.