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Tropicana To Undergo Stunning Retail and Dining Expansion

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 7th November 2013 12:42pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 37


Nearly three years ago, we spotted CEO Alex Yemenidjian showing off some renderings of Phase III expansion of Tropicana right to the corner of Tropicana Blvd and The Strip.

It appears that his dream of expanding the Tropicana to the edge of The Strip has taken a big step towards reality. Tropicana has partnered with retail leasing agent RKF to secure tenants for The Shops at Tropicana, a three level expansion of retail and dining space.

The Shops at Tropicana


The Shops at Tropicana's Casino Level will feature 76,000 square feet of expansion with two large dining tenants (with outdoor terraces) a five stall food court, four smaller retail spaces and one large one.

The Shops at Tropicana

Double wow. This will make for quite striking transformation - inside and out of the Tropicana.

The Shops at Tropicana

Mezzanine Level features 93k sq ft of leasable retail space occupying almost all of the second floor of the Tropicana, save the surveillance unit above the casino. This circular promenade will contain roughly 25 retail spaces ranging in size from 1,300 sq ft to 13,000 sq ft. Entry will via pedestrian bridges from Excalibur and MGM Grand, interior escalators from casino level and replacing the escalators at the back of the casino with a "grand staircase".

Retail Anchor Level features three retail anchor tenants 10k, 16k and 18k sq feet each. Perfect for yet another Internet Ferret Training Facility Walgreens!

The Shops at Tropicana have the potential to completely change the game at the Trop.

Dining... even after the stunning renovation, Tropicana's dining options were limited and required a trail of bread crumbs to find. Even the highly touted and hyped to the sky Bagatelle was a supreme flop.

Retail... other than some sundries shops, Tropicana has none.

Excitement... the Tropicana needs a huge shot it in the ass, arm, eye and ear. Adding a hustling bustling dining/retail experience is the perfect antidote to pretty, yet anemic, resort inside.

The Shops at Tropicana

Las Vegas Boulevard elevation view.

The Shops at Tropicana

Tropicana Boulevard elevation view.

The timing couldn't be any more perfect. Once Tropicana secures lease commitments for anchor tenants, they should be able secure financing for the project - investment money is relatively easy to find again. MGM's new arena project, the Monte Carlo exterior renovations, The Park, and the Hakkasan-related renovations to the exterior of MGM Grand signal that the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard might very well be next new hot neighborhood (sorry Sam, south is the new south.)

I'll spitball the cost of the expansion at $180m.

You really have to give Tropicana CEO Alex Yemenidjian and his team credit for seeing in the Tropicana what few previous owners have and also having the guts to try (and fail) try (and fail) and then try something completely to improve on the Tropicana. Kudos. Can't wait till this is done.... my ferret needs to be housebroken.


Comments & Discussion:

Yay. Another mall.

This looks more interesting than MGM's Park

My two cents...

Having studied urban planning within my architecture degree, I can't really figure out why there is a boom of trying to make the strip into a pedestrian mall rather than the superhighway of non-moving traffic it is. By definition the megaresorts up and through Aria have been designed in such a way to pull people off the streets into them, setting up corridors of traffic that move usually at least a football field's length away from the sidewalk.

Linq works to me because it's built as a bridge between two properties to an attraction and ties not only into frontage but also between the inner workings of Flamingo and the Quad. The MGM adjacent Showcase works because of the foot traffic on that side of the strip as there are no major resorts off strip. Perhaps this will work as a terminus, but I'm curious to see if any lessons are learned from Harmon Corner, the questionable success of the mall above the Palazzo floor, Crystals, and the soon to be built TI mall and the horrific Grand Bazaar flea market.

@blackjacker why so smug? i know we all love to see the big hotel towers go up, but this project - if it moves forward - is really good news. more competition is better for the consumer.... particularly from and independent operator. Also worth noting the trend that resorts are now turning their insides out... perhaps sparked by the much maligned Chateau/Sugar House addition at Paris? Or Cosmopolitan's three level open glass frontage? It is kind of surprising that it has taken resorts 70 years to realize that one of their greatest assets they have is The Strip itself. Having to the trek through MGM to get to Craft etc will soon be seen as a hindrance when there are equally great joints steps from the door.

Looks like the Harmon Corner of the South Strip. It could be fun with the right tenants. I'm all for any attempts to wake up that end of the Strip.

Love the watawwataonedolla shout-out...full marks.

@keith agreed I think the VT article and side profile has a typo in that the bridge goes to Excalibur (the tram terminus) not to NYNY. It does say Excalibur on the Trop's materials (mezz level purple map, left side)

I think this makes a ton of sense for the Trop. after staying there, all I could think is there was just nothing to do or go if I wanted to stay at the resort, this at least gives some of their clientele immediate options.

I don't think it's going to drive people to the Trop, unless there is something they just can't find elsewhere, but I do think that it will keep its hotel occupants close and open it up as a destination for more people.

keith/jimmy - brain fart. i fixed it.

This looks like the PHo frontage..which looks nice..but what sort of retail can you attract that is not already there somewhere else on the Strip?

I'd love to see an In an Out in this configuration..would save on the bus ride from NYNY to the Dean Martin Drive location..Fatburger and In an Out within a short walk would mean a corner of heaven would be on the Las Vegas Strip..

If nothing else, it would be much easier to get to Tropicana, and at least make that end of the Strip more uniform...but any sort of construction and retail expansion is a good thing for the Vegas job market...

Does anyone know how Harmon Corner is doing financially? I wonder if that would be a good indicator of whether this will really work or is a last gasp effort for the Trop. I get the sense the money already spent on the Trop hasn't had the impact they were hoping.

It will definitely increase foot traffic on that corner. I would guess that currently over 90% traverse through the NYNY corner.

Maybe the main attraction will combine a haunted / horror house with the mob? And maybe it will stay open for 12 months? And maybe, just maybe, it will feature Sugar Factory's cheaper cousin Salt Licks?

Hopefully they can get maybe a little more Metro presence on that bridge from Trop to Excal. That one, along with the NYNY/MGM skybridge, always seem sketchy late at night and I avoid them when I can.

It looks like the casino floor will be getting tons of changes, as the main entrance near the Tiffany feature will be relocated back to it's original, pre-Tiffany tower location at the original building's center. The current porte cochere looks like it will be a pocket park with no vehicular traffic. The area by the Sports book and Lucky's Bar will become the new porte cochere, with the Nikki beach entrance remaining. The Tiffany feature will be removed as the mezz level will become retail. The escalator area near the back will be reconfigured and joined with the mall.

Overall, I love it. I had a concept similar to this that I created a few years ago posted on Flickr... this is very close to that (minus new hotel towers, phase 4 and 5 maybe??)

Seems like it would be a mistake to put a restaurant at the very front instead of expanding and reconfiguring the casino floor to come right to the corner at street level.

"Having to the trek through MGM to get to Craft etc will soon be seen as a hindrance when there are equally great joints steps from the door."

Anyone really think the Trop will put something great there?

@Chuck Funny how just a few years ago the conventional wisdom was the opposite. Steve Wynn thought the right move was to put a mountain between the street and his front door, and then MGM follows suit by situating Aria as far from the strip as they could get away with.

@fearlessleader I think maybe I'm looking at it to pragmatically. I agree that the inside out thing is happening, but I worry that the overpopulation of such spaces with the same repetitive and often times underused retail is problematic. If level two were a grand open casino space like Revel overlooking the strip frontage I'd be much more excited than the idea of another mall turned street facing billboard. Either way it's good Trop is using the space in front in some way. The desolation left by cutting out the plants and shutting down the waterfall makes the whole white landscape there now pretty banal.

@Duffman - I would agree except the street level access there isn't that great anyhow given the intersection closed to street level pedestrian traffic, the way the sketches look to me the bridges funnel inside into presumably an escalator into casino situation (maybe this will be like the bridge-level retail at Cosmo which funnels down into the casino?)

A few comments have gone back and forth on the topic of whether building to the Strip frontage makes sense for projects like this, Linq, City Center, etc. My background is in urban/city/community/whateva planning like blackjacker (and, apparently, The Murren) - which doesn't necessarily mean my perspective is worth one penny more than anyone else. I like planning & design as a career, but LOVE Vegas. So I feel like I could write a whole article about this...but that sure as hell ain't what y'all come to VT to see. I'll hit the highlights:

1. A big retail trend in suburban/metropolitan areas is to turn the shopping mall inside out. Think of those "town square" deals where you've got a quaint grid with sidewalks, public square, buildings up against the sidewalk, etc.

2. There is a genuine interest in the form and vibrancy of a downtown by the Gen X/Y/Millenials, so putting shops and dining at the sidewalk tries to capture that spirit. (Think about Downtown LV making its comeback.)

3. Valuable real estate lies between many Strip casinos and their complexes, so this can be seen as squeezing more cash flow out of these properties. Basically, if you don't have a show-stopper attraction out there (Bellagio is the natural example), is it better served as leasable space?

But I'll step back from all this and say that the Strip ain't Downtown Vegas, and Downtown ain't the Strip. Downtown has embraced this after quite a few years of a slide. Not that the Strip's current trend is necessarily on that trajectory, but some stagnant propertIes continue to grasp at how to infuse their properties with that energy. Trop appears to be doing that. Is it riding this type of "inside-out shopping mall" trend? Perhaps. Is it appropriate for a property at the end of the Strip with relatively lighter foot traffic? That's the risk that they're willing to take.

The wild card to this is that the Strip is one of America's most fantastic stretches of road (hell, it's a designated National Byway) because it cannot be recreated. But at the same time, it is what it is because is has been continually recreated for decades.

My apologies for the diatribe.

It's not a "food court." It's a "dining commissary and terrace."

One of the tenants will apparently be Robert Irvine so I think they will not have any problems attracting tenants. The interesting thing about the move is that most people go across the street by way of MGM then go down the escalator and pass what is there to get on the next escalator to go across to Excalibur. Once this is done then you will have to walk past the retail area to get from one place to another so stores may make a nice buck. I have stayed at the Trop three times and never once ate there and this will change that. Anything is better than the broke down waterfall and the astroturf that is there now.

Blackjacker, I feel like The Forum Shoppes are the least friendliest, most easily lost tourist trap ever, and the expansion only added even more walking and work to what was already a maze of a mall that looked the same from every dimension.

But it makes mad bank. Or at least it did. I assume it maybe does again, given the big shift in tenants there recently whereas things were pretty dire in 2007-2010.

In the case of the Trop, Alex Y can't move the hotel towers, and he has a casino designed around the old 67-88 paradigm of "the big entrance set back from the road." The only hotel these days that succeeds with a big entrance set back from the road is Bellagio, for Aria it's been an anchor around the neck.

This looks like a more serious job to try an adapt an old building footprint to modern times than the stupid and very temporary looking county fair at Bally's.

Also, I maintain that the Chateau/Sugar House annex is awful, and so is Diablo's. Mon Ami Gabi and the P-Ho had patio dining streetside before or around their time. You could even sort of make the case for Sugar & Ice at Wynn.

@Jerrydice - thanks for the thoughts. My 2 cents: wish you would write a full length article in that vein, as that type of analysis IS in fact the type of stuff I come here to read, just like the analysis above of the floor plans. Perhaps you could do a guest post. Other sites are great but often have fluff content to fill the days, but these "we found the hidden plans let's analyze them" posts are part of what makes VT a great site to read.

I'm more excited about this retail complex than I am about whatever's going on at the old Treasure Island. Like some other posters, I've stayed at the Trop (pre- and post-renovations) and often had to eat elsewhere after the first night.

The exterior renderings are pleasing in a PHo sort of way, but not tacky like what's happening to the actual NYNY facade. That said, I like the orange stripe in the daytime renderings better than when it becomes the white-light stripe seen in the night rendering. But it's good to see someone's trying to figure out how to use all the underutilized interior space on the casino's second floor by the barber shop(!) and old executive offices.

I hope this is more of a semi-circular mall-like environment like Miracle Mile (or a slightly better Harmon Corner) rather than a maze of confusion like Crystals or the Forum Shoppes.

Some concerns:

Automotive fumes/noise and desert heat would ruin any al-fresco dining "events" for me on a busy street corner. (I'm not the first person to make this comment; I think I read something similar about Giada's restaurant.)

I hope any construction doesn't ruin my favorite indoor spot in Vegas: the second-floor balcony that's at eye level with the beautiful stained glass over the main gaming pit. It's a great little touch of Old Vegas, and I can pretend to be the eye in the sky.

The pedestrian bridge from MGM should continue to funnel people almost directly into the casino portion of the Trop, but that intersection's other bridges (NYNY-ExCal and ExCal-Trop) are poorly situated in their current configuration. It's not a fun corner to navigate -- from any direction.

Finally, Harmon Corner works (at least logistically, though I'm not a fan of its mix of tenants) because it's still in the middle of the Strip. People want to head north to the PHo and Paris AND want to head south to MGM. They also want to cross the street to Cosmo and Aria.

But, barring an outdoor concert and the half-built Ferris wheel, there's nothing south of the Trop. And nobody wants to cross the street to the ExCal. So I'm concerned there won't be as much foot traffic.

@jimmy / jerry - rant away bub. if you want to write up your thoughts in longer form we'd be happy to put them in a post with illustrations etc. email me charles@vt

SuperV - tenant selection is crucial for this to work, which explains why they're fishing for leases instead of bulldozing first and asking questions later.

Matt - definitely funny. the layout of city center might very well be the blunder of the millennium....... or longer!

Will do, Chuck. Heading to Atlantic City in a couple hours...might be inspirational.

I am curious about how many other people besides myself think that due to the awful Vegas climate, all these outdoor attractions are not a great idea? Who wants to dine outside when it's 116 degrees? I know that I do not. I have very little interest in eating/shopping outside from May to September (too hot), or December to February (Too cold). So, that leaves March, April, October, and November as the 4 months these attractions might potentially interest me. Maybe I'm spoiled, but...I don't go on vacation to sit outside and sweat over some mashed potatoes. I can do that on my porch in South Georgia any day.

I also have little inteerst in eating outside but would do it if I could at Mon Ami Gabi so some will prefer that. The climate is an issue but that has never stopped people from flooding the streets at night. Will this be better than the Quad or the Park? Since it is going to be part of the hotel it may have a better chance of success. And Chuck exactly where is the TI mall going to go? The front seems way too crowded now so that places it behind the hotel past the pirate boat?

Chuck asked me what I thought in person, but he also got me so drunk, I couldn't give him a coherent response. So here are my thoughts only two beers in...

This is great. A home run, in fact. Anything is good for this property and that intersection just doesn't have any instant retail built out to the strip.

Put 24-hour hangover food in there and lure the Hakkasan kids over (because they're sure not spilling back into MGM). Give them a generous match play or even a free bet with a certain level buy-in along with their dining check. Let's face it: the nightclub crowd doesn't fully intersect with the gambling crowd, so at the very least, give these kids the opportunity to taste a $5 or $10 table (which, even after spending $500 on a bottle, feels like a splurge for them). 4am and drunk, they'll likely split tens, double on 12s, and give it all up, but it could be a slow enough burn to actually be fun and have them rave to their friends in LA about the joys of Trop.

Just a thought.

It would be nice if they replaced the chain link prison fences on the walkways with glass panes similar to those used on the newer walkways such as the one connecting Wynn and Palazzo.

If they did that no one would be able to take pictures. People use the walkways to get from one hotel to the next but most stop to snap a few pictures. The openings are big enough to put your camera close. Glass means people find the open spaces and stand there interrupting the flow of traffic like they do at Harmon Corner.

Something needed to be done with that corner, there is no energy there and no amount of white paint was going to change that. I think this is a huge step up from their previous plan that included the rooftop nightclub. At least the Trop has figured out their issues with trying to bring in the nightlife, and that it especially wont work with Hakkasan across the street. That being said, I would love if they could turn a portion of the new construction into expanded casino space (perhaps where the Walgreens is proposed adjacent to the sports book, or even the second and or third level of the proposed retail right at the corner). I wonder what the "hook" or centerpeice of the casino will be with the Tiffany glass installation slated to go. There isn't any space for it on the mezz level and the new entrance will be centerline with the rear staircase as it was prior to 1976. I hope they can refine some of the issues with the previous casino remodel and really bring some energy into the space. Both Ambar and the Sportsbook bar will be gone, so hopefully this will be a much needed upgrade to their bar scene. Both of those bars are complete jokes and not very welcoming. With it's size and layout, the Trop could really be a no-brainer, but they need to make sure all the "blanks" are filled in correctly.

Anyone see a point that the LV blvd gets turned into something like Fremont street closed to everything but foot traffic and maybe those cabs on bikes.

Looks like a good move to me as long as the tenants of both the retail and dining spaces are unique/compelling enough to make people walking by the Trop on their way to other properties want to shop/dine there and then hopefully stick around long enough to drop some coin in the casino.

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