Famous corporate raider Carl Icahn is one step closer to selling a company under his control, the American Casino & Entertainment Properties, as the Nevada Gaming Control Board recommends the transaction for approval. The buyer is Whitehall Street Real Estate Funds, an affiliate of the Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs. The sale is set to close in February.
American Casino operates locally the Stratosphere and two Arizona Charlie's gaming houses in the suburbs and also the Aquarius at the southern tip of Nevada in Laughlin.
For the near term, Whitehall Street plans to spend about $54 million in upgrades and additions in the acquired properties. In the long term it may have much bigger ideas. Stratosphere comes with a chunk of undeveloped land and it could be used for a high-rise condominium tower, which now is the hot trend in Las Vegas. Stratosphere sits at the northern end of the Strip, the rapidly growing stretch that has several mega resorts under construction, including the Encore by Wynn Resorts, Echelon Place by Boyd Gaming and the Fontainebleau hotel, casino and condominiums. To make the most of that, it's only a matter of time when Whitehall Street will announce a new project for the property.
Whitehall Street is gradually becoming an important player on the Vegas scene because it already owns a 40% share of the Las Vegas Hilton. That property also includes quite a bit of land that can be developed many different ways, among them more condominiums.
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