10 truly unique things about the soon-to-open Downtown Grand

The downtown Las Vegas landscape continues to evolve, with a growing number of developments bringing excitement and economic energy to the area. Noteworthy among these is the Downtown Grand, which is scheduled to debut before the end of 2013 (at this time the opening is being targeted for October).

A rendering of Downtown Grand (photo courtesy of Fifth Street Gaming)

A rendering of the Downtown Grand. (Photo courtesy of Fifth Street Gaming)

Located at Stewart and Ogden avenues, the historic property formerly known as the Lady Luck is being developed by CIM Group and operated by DTG Las Vegas Manager LLC and Fifth Street Gaming. These companies are currently transforming it into a new hotel/casino destination that exudes urban cool.

Downtown Grand is comprised of two towers – the 17-story Casino Tower (east) and the 25-story Grand Tower (west), which are joined by an elevated walkway. Together, they will house 650 rooms and suites that range in size from 350 to 1,024 square feet. The buildings have been gutted, so everything from the plumbing and electrical wiring to the paint and carpeting is brand new.

Visitors can choose from four sophisticated and stylish types of accommodations at Downtown Grand. The base-level deluxe room offers complete comfort and style, with the average nightly rate starting around $69 (less on weekdays, more on the weekends). Instead of being dark and stately, it has a refreshingly light and feminine ambiance with soft-hued green walls and a sky-like trim. Boasting corner spots with striking views, the premium rooms are larger and have an elegant deep red color palette. Plus, there are 23 petite suites and two grand suites.

In addition to the guest rooms, Downtown Grand will have an array of one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars and gaming amenities. Here are 10 things that are sure to wow you!

Exterior view of Downtown Grand on Third Street (photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

An exterior view of the Downtown Grand, with a look at the service windows for The Spread deli and the Art Bar. (Photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

1.) Art BarThanks to a service window, this will be the only place in town where you can walk up from the street and purchase art in conjunction with beer, wine and cocktails. Inside the resort, you’ll find Art Bar situated next to the front desk. It will have a canopy of paintings suspended from the ceiling. The wall space will be used to showcase and sell works by local artists. Recognizing the importance of downtown’s gallery scene and the popularity of its monthly First Friday arts festival, Fifth Street Gaming wants to promote them both to visitors. The company also plans to display artwork from schools and charitable organizations like Opportunity Village.

2.) Cee-loGet ready to try your luck at this game of chance better known as “street dice.” Cee-lo is a quick form of craps where dice are thrown off the side of a building. Downtown Grand will be the only place in the U.S. with legalized street dice. It will be part of an outdoor gaming hub on Third Street that also features two blackjack tables and a walk-up betting window operated by William Hill. This area will be unique to the Downtown Grand because Fifth Street Gaming holds a gaming license that’s something of an anomaly – it covers the land stretching between the resort’s two towers, which includes Third Street.

3.) GraffitiThat’s not vandalism in the casino. In transforming the property, Fifth Street Gaming has been aiming for an industrial chic aesthetic that is visually appealing and authentic. A lot of the original girders and duct work in the casino have been kept. The catwalks in the ceiling that were once used by security to monitor table games are still there. You’ll also notice reclaimed bricks on the walls, along with existing rust and graffiti. Although meant to feel like a bygone factory, the casino floor will house 30 of the latest table games and 600 state-of-the-art slot machines as well as a high-limit pit that’s split into two distinct areas.

The entrance off Third Street into Downtown Grand (photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

The entrance off Third Street into the Downtown Grand. (Photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

4.) FurnaceThe scene is going to be hot in this center bar. Furnace is intended to look like a workshop where glass is blown and shaped. In the 1930s when Hoover Dam began to generate electricity, one of the first places supplied with power was downtown Las Vegas. Furnace is inspired by that period in history, and the bar’s surroundings will try to capture the steps essential to crafting neon signs. Of course, there’ll be a variety of traditional and signature drinks – and who knows what creative vessels they’ll be served in!

5.) The Ninth IslandOn hot summer days, chill out with a frozen dessert treat that’s prepared right in front of you. In a corner near the entrance off Ogden Avenue and Third Street, you’ll discover this real Hawaiian shave ice and daiquiri bar. Having set up shop on this side of the Pacific Ocean, the name comes from native Hawaiians, who’ve long had a presence in Las Vegas. They fondly refer to the city as “the ninth island.” Nothing will compare to the shave ice made here. It will be thinly scraped off a crystal clear block that’s kept at the perfect temperature so as not to form grainy crystals.

A premium room at Downtown Grand (photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

One of the elegant premium rooms at the Downtown Grand. (Photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

6.) Stewart+OgdenEnjoy a meal at this fine dining bistro, also known as S+O, that will appeal to every palate. It will be positioned near the gaming floor and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. S+O is inspired by two prominent figures from the city’s past – Archibald Stewart and Peter Skene Ogden – who were the namesakes for the streets that border the Downtown Grand. Stewart, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1834, operated a freight business, cattle ranch and butcher shop in the state. Born in Quebec, Canada, in 1790, Ogden was a fur trapper and trader as well as an explorer who led expeditions through Nevada and other states in the western U.S. Officials at the Downtown Grand wanted to honor these men and celebrate Nevada history, so S+O will have two distinct facets: one to echo the traditional meat and potatoes nature of Stewart and the other to capture the more adventurous tastes of Ogden. Well respected in Las Vegas, Elizabeth Blau and Associates have been charged with creating the menu.

7.) The CommissaryImagine the variety of a buffet amid a vibrant and interesting market atmosphere. Another inventive concept slated for Downtown Grand is this upscale food court. The Commissary will feature four to five different culinary options. Several of them will come from Fifth Street Gaming’s own restaurant portfolio – such as i♥burgers and The Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar. In addition, a new venue dubbed Short Rounds will serve Chinese dumplings. In the evenings, The Commissary After Dark will emerge as a place to hang out with a DJ in a lounge-style setting.

Porte cochere and towers at Downtown Grand (photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

Downtown Grand's two towers and the porte cochere. (Photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

8.) Porte cochereYou’ll be impressed if you drive up to the main entrance on the east side of Downtown Grand’s Casino Tower. The porte cochere will have four lanes for traffic. It’s being constructed to look like the steelwork typically found over a shipping yard. Big signs will be erected on the roof. In addition to valet parking at the porte cochere, the resort will have an attached self-parking garage along with the freestanding Downtown3rd garage on the corner of Fourth Street and Ogden Avenue. Fifth Street Gaming officials say that when everything’s done, the Downtown Grand will offer more parking – per room and per square foot – than anyplace else in downtown.

9.) Bilingual workersThe Downtown Grand is targeting a variety of demographics, including the Chinese market. Not only has the resort been aggressively promoting itself in the Far East, but numerous amenities are also geared toward this segment. You’ll notice an Asian influence in the décor of the premium rooms. Games like baccarat, pai gow and pai gow tiles will be prominent on the casino floor, with an authentic, 45-seat Chinese restaurant located just steps away. Along with bilingual dealers, the Downtown Grand will also employ bilingual restaurant and service staff.

The infinity pool at Picnic on the fifth floor of Downtown Grand (photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

The infinity pool at Picnic on the fifth floor of the Downtown Grand. (Photo by Jennifer Whitehair)

10.) PicnicYoull be able to buy a basket to share with family, friends or someone special on weekend afternoons. “Picnic” is the name given to one of the most eagerly anticipated venues at the Downtown Grand. Located on the fifth floor, it’s an urban rooftop retreat. There’s an infinity pool with a cabana  in the center that is raised to function as a bandstand. Amid park-like landscaping, you’ll come across a large bar and more outdoor gaming. Movie screenings and concerts will occur in this space as well as bocce ball tournaments and cultural events like wine tastings and Shakespeare performances. Year-round programming is anticipated – because heaters will be set up during cooler months while misters and fans will be used throughout summer.

These are just a few of the many amenities taking shape at the Downtown Grand. Have a peek at the construction in the slideshow below.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.