Today, the Irish-themed O’Sheas Casino will close. It has had a rollicking presence at the center of the Las Vegas Strip since opening in 1989. But the shutdown is not a cause for sadness because fans of O’Sheas will see it return in 2013 as part of The Linq, Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s highly anticipated new development.
Designed by David M. Schwartz Architects and estimated to cost $550 million, The Linq aims to transform the corridor across the street from Caesars Palace – between the Flamingo and O’Sheas (which is being demolished to make room for the project) – into an urban retail and entertainment complex. In fact, the leasable space, which will wrap around the Flamingo, Harrah’s and the Imperial Palace, is going to span an area of more than 200,000 square feet. About 70 percent of it will be comprised of restaurants and bars, and the other 30 percent will feature stores and attractions.
“We are enhancing the allure of the resort experience in a coveted location, introducing an exciting new offering not only for guests occupying our own 24,000 Las Vegas hotel rooms, but also for all who live in and visit Las Vegas,” said Gary Loveman, the chairman, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
On The Linq’s north side, there will be a walkway leading from the Carnaval Court outdoor plaza at Harrah’s through the Imperial Palace. A footpath will also be built from the south side of The Linq into the Flamingo. Hopes are high that the project will revitalize the heart of the Strip, and with an outdoor pedestrian-friendly focus, it’s expected to be different from anything else in Las Vegas.
Caruso Affiliated has been tasked as the leasing agent for The Linq. The company is nationally known for its award-winning open-air retail developments. Among their most famous is The Grove, which debuted in Los Angeles in 2002. Today, it’s a hotspot in Southern California that attracts more than 18 million visitors annually – including scores of celebrities.
“We are pleased that Rick Caruso, who has studied this market for years, has chosen Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s Linq as the project to bring his vision to Las Vegas,” said Loveman.
The Linq will be targeting a young clientele. Its tenant mix will appeal to people between the ages of 21 and 46 – as their market share is predicted to encompass up to 52 percent of visitor spending in Las Vegas by 2015.
Without a doubt, the centerpiece at The Linq will be a giant observation wheel called The High Roller. At a whopping 550 feet, it will become the tallest observation wheel in the world. [Note: The Singapore Flyer is currently the world’s tallest observation wheel at 541 feet high – and the famed London Eye, at a mere 443 feet, almost pales by comparison.] Created by Arup Engineering, The High Roller will use an estimated 6.6 million pounds of steel in its construction. There will be 28 cabins designed as transparent spheres. Each one will be able to hold 40 people and provide spectacular bird’s-eye views of the skyline and the greater Las Vegas valley. A full rotation on The High Roller will take about 30 minutes.
Although an official groundbreaking is to be held later in the year, work has already gotten well underway on The Linq. In addition to the closure of O’Sheas, several businesses around Carnaval Court have closed and been torn down.
On May 6, a beloved Las Vegas nightspot will close its doors as well. The Rockhouse Bar & Nightclub, a raucous spring break-style club situated in front of the Imperial Palace, is hosting a final day of partying for Cinco de Mayo.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg for the dramatic changes planned at the Imperial Palace. Over the next year, The Linq will completely transform the hotel’s façade, porte cochère, casino and reception area. The Imperial Palace’s poker room recently made a move from the first floor near the main entrance to the second floor, next to the race and sports book. The small-scale Capri Tower behind the resort has also been brought down. Eventually, even the name “Imperial Palace” will be retired as it will be getting a new identity, courtesy of The Linq.
The Linq is a winning proposition all around. In the coming months it is expected to generate 3,000 construction-related jobs. When The Linq opens next year, it will create at least 1,500 jobs in stores, restaurants and attractions – as well as in the new O’Sheas.
“The Linq is going to be the new address for fun at the center of the Las Vegas Strip,” said Loveman.