The Outstanding 7
Sometimes nominating and voting for the best can be challenging. There are plenty of people and businesses that are part of the Las Vegas community that clearly stand out. This year we have chosen seven of those businesses and groups that not only do an outstanding job, but also help to make Las Vegas the Best!
The First Responders
Emergency responders in Las Vegas have spent years training to respond to a mass casualty event such as the October 1st shooting that claimed 58 lives.
“We knew what to do,” Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell told Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters. “It was much grander than we ever envisioned. However, we were able to handle it because of our people, our training, our professionalism and our equipment and our relationships.”
Cassell said 160 firefighters responded to the Strip shooting at the Route 91 country music festival, 108 of whom worked with Clark County Fire Department. Crews with Henderson, North Las Vegas and Las Vegas Fire Departments all responded to assist Clark County. First responders learned from past mass casualty events like the Columbine and Aurora shootings, he said. More people would have died had the attacks happened 10 years ago, Cassell said.
Police and firefighters started training together in 2009 after a series of attacks in Mumbai, India, the year before, Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Branden Clarkson said. Clarkson specializes in the multiagency counterterrorism training section. All law enforcement agencies in the Las Vegas Valley are trained for the counterterrorism integration. Cooperation between police and the fire departments saved lives, Cassell said.
Cassell praised people inside the concert venue who decided to help the injured, as well as the paramedics and first responders who risked their lives that night. “They performed wonderfully under fire, literally under fire, taking care of patients that were right there in front of them in a drastic, very bad situation,” Cassell.
Blake Apgar and Mike Shoro contributed to this story.
If Tony Hsieh, the Zappos CEO, is the savior of downtown Las Vegas, then Michigan native Derek Stevens is at least the savior of Fremont Street. Stevens, had his own vision. In a matter of five years, he transformed two aging hotels — the Golden Gate and the D Las Vegas — into entertainment and gambling attractions that have renewed portions of Fremont Street and given downtown additional character.
Greg and Derek Stevens bought the old Las Vegas Club at 18 Fremont St. in 2015. It also closed that year. Now they are beginning the process of turning the old casino into a new hotel-casino. A project spokeswoman said the demolition process will be slow, possibly only to be completed in 2020. Workers will tear the old club down story by story for safety reasons, given the property’s location, she said.
The owners of the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate properties in downtown Las Vegas say they’ll build a third hotel-casino after acquiring a building adjacent to the Las Vegas Club from the Granite Gaming Group.
Derek and Greg Stevens, who also own the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, said the purchase of the building that housed two small casinos and the Topless Girls of Glitter Gulch adult entertainment club will provide land for an as yet unnamed project along the Fremont Street Experience light canopy.
The new hotel-casino would be the first ground-up hotel development in downtown Las Vegas in decades. Numerous properties have had facelifts over the years with a new tower opening at the Golden Nugget in 2009 and the Downtown Grand being remodeled and reopening in 2013 from what originally was the Lady Luck.
Other facelifts have occurred at the Four Queens, The Plaza and Stevens’ Golden Gate and D Hotel properties — the D formerly was known as Fitzgeralds and the Sundance.
The departure of the Glitter Gulch club marks the departure of topless entertainment from the heart of downtown.
Richard N. Velotta contributed to this story.
The Mob Museum
The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, is a nonprofit group dedicated to the history of organized crime and law enforcement. It is a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas located steps from Fremont Street.
The Mob Museum provides a world-class, interactive journey through true stories. From the birth of the Mob, to today’s headlines. Shadows and whispers. G-Men and Made Men. Whether you like it or not, this is American history. This eye-opening, authentic view of organized crime’s impact on the world reveals an insider’s look at the events and characters of the continuing battle between the Mob and the law.
Real stories are brought to life with engaging, multi-sensory exhibits and unparalleled insights from those on the front lines of both sides of the battle. The Museum offers a provocative, contemporary look at this fascinating topic through hundreds of artifacts and immersive storylines. They bring Mob stories to life so completely, you’ll feel like you’re part of them. But hey—you didn’t hear it from us.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
If you are the entertainment capital of the world, you must have a world class theatre center. While Las Vegas has some of the most sophistacitated stages, performers and technology, it would not be complete without The Smith Center.
From the very beginning, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts was envisioned as a world-class performing arts center that would develop and present the best and brightest in a broad range of first-rate programming and unite the residents of our community. A collection of venues that could both host the world’s finest performances from Broadway shows to world-class concerts, and support and encourage local artists. They have brought fine art of the world to Downtown Las Vegas, and brought the art of Downtown to the world. The Smith Center is funded by a public-private partnership.
The Fertitta Vision
For visitors to Las Vegas, the primary focus may be the Strip, but ask any “local” and they will all have their favorite casino; a "local" casino. More often than not, a Station Casinos location will be touted as the best. For most, it’s how the food (from steak to buffets) is and more often how well the Slots play and pay. At Station Casinos you find some of the best paying slots and best tasting buffets!
Station Casinos is a gaming company based in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin, Nevada, founded by Frank Fertitta, Jr. in 1976, Station Casinos, is a dominate choice in the locals casino market. The company has purchased several sites that are gaming-entitled, meaning that major casinos can be built at that location without additional approvals. There are only a limited number of such sites available in the Las Vegas area. Station Casinos has also branched out into managing casinos that they do not own. In May 2016, they agreed to purchase the Palms Casino Resort for $313 million. The company is publicly held (NASDAQ: RRR).
Changing The Strip
Steve Wynn's first major casino on the Las Vegas Strip was The Mirage, a $630 million project, which opened in November 1989. The resort's high cost and emphasis on luxury meant that it was considered high risk at the time, though the project ended up being enormously lucrative. The hotel, with its erupting volcano and South Seas theme, ignited a $12 billion building boom on the Strip. Its construction is also considered noteworthy in that Wynn had set a new standard for Vegas resorts, and when it opened, The Mirage was the first casino to use security cameras full-time on all table games. Known for its entertainment, the hotel became the main venue for the Siegfried & Roy show in 1990, and in 1993 the hotel hosted the Cirque du Soleil show Nouvelle Expérience.
Wynn’s company, Mirage Resorts, oversaw the construction of the $1.6 billion Bellagio, which at the time was the most expensive hotel in the world. Like Wynn's previous resorts, the Bellagio features an extensive water show on the Strip.
After selling Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand Inc. for $6.6 billion in June 2000, Wynn built the $2.7 billion Wynn Resort on the former Desert Inn property. He later expanded with the Encore. His publicly held company has properties throughout the world.
Sinatra, Technology, Media & Venice
In 1991, while honeymooning in Venice, Italy with his second wife, Miriam, Sheldon Adelson found the inspiration for a mega-resort hotel. He also had the perfect place to build. In 1988, Adelson and his partners purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the former hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. The following year, Adelson and his partners constructed the Sand Expo and Convention Center, then the only privately owned and operated convention center in the U.S.
He razed the Sands and spent $1.5 billion to construct The Venetian, a Venice-themed resort hotel and casino. The Venetian opened May 3, 1999. In 2003, The Venetian added the 1,013-suite Venezia tower – giving the hotel 4,049 suites; 18 restaurants and a shopping mall with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.
Adelson also owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Adelson, a lifelong donor and philanthropist to a variety of causes, founded with his wife's initiative, The Adelson Foundation.