Northwest of Harmon and Koval

Immediately northwest of Harmon and Koval, more or less behind Planet Hollywood, is the Ice MegaClub. Now abandoned for over 15 years, the Ice is a fairly widely discussed eyesore just off the strip. More surprising, though, is the area surrounding it: about 60 acres in total of mostly dirt and old pavement.

Sometime between 1952 (USGS topo map) and 1965 (Google Earth imagery) a large residential development was built in this area, along an odd-shaped boundary which is still apparent in the property lines today. I have not determined who built this development, what it was called, or what situation lead to the eccentric shape. Between March 2004 and January 2006 these homes were entirely torn down, leaving soil and the road network which had once served them, painted parking spaces still apparent. Although unverified, it seems a reasonable supposition that the demolition was related to the purchase of at least some part of the land by Starwood and Edge Resorts (LVA) and home builder D. R. Horton in 2004 or 2005 (LVSun). D. R. Horton had apparently planned a 1,000 unit mid-rise condo development, although it's not clear if this plan ever went further than concept.

I have not been able to determine exactly how the land was owned and how it passed to later owners, D. R. Horton appears to have been the first to purchase the area but articles only mention 30 acres which is not the entire plot. The Starwood/Edge project initially purchased only the 2 acre corner spaced occupied by the Ice and later acquired more land from D. R. Horton. In fact, every time this monster of a project expanded, the land seemed to have been purchased from D. R. Horton. It is possible, and in my mind even likely, that D. R. Horton purchased the entire area from the condo or rental operator and that the few articles on the subject understate the acreage by error.

Just easy of this area on Harmon is the Harbor Island Apartments, a large complex built possibly in the '70s or '80s (GE imagery and supposition) and itself occupying quite a large space. In 2005, the Harbor Island apartments were purchased by Centra and real estate giant The Related Companies who, by some odd accident, enlisted George Clooney and model-turned-nightclub-magnate Rande Gerber as their key allies in promoting the project. The proposed development, Las Ramblas, was a $2bn condo-hotel complex of 4400 units in 11 towers (wiki). This project was remarkably short lived, and was cancelled in 2006 with reserved units refunded.

Meanwhile, partners Starwood and Edge Resorts also had ambitious plans. Their proposed W Las Vegas hotel, condos, and casino would total 3,000 units and $1.7bn, per the initial plan (wiki). The scope of the project only increased with time, and after the 2006 collapse of the Las Ramblas development the property, still occupied by the Harbor Island apartments, was purchased by Edge and added on to the plan as Edge East. During 2006 a “resident sales center” was constructed on the south edge of the property, near Harmon, to represent the development for the purpose of reserving condos. This building still exists today, apparently abandoned but maintained, the only actual new construction on the plot. Like Las Ramblas before it, the W Las Vegas was cancelled in 2007, with reservations refunded.

While the cancellation of the W Las Vegas was due, in part, to the Starwood withdrawing from the partnership, Edge Resorts carried on confidently. Bringing on new partner Africa Israel Group, in 2009 Edge announced the Edge Las Vegas, a 6,745 room complex which would be the largest hotel in the world. Eight months later, the joint venture behind this development was insolvent - the standing record for quickest failure on this land.

Also in 2009, a new nightclub was announced for the location of the Ice called Blithe (LVW). It's not clear what came of this plan, but it clearly never happened. The developer proposing the Blithe apparently owned the land at the time, and so they were either related to the Edge partnership or the Edge partnership had begun to sell the property, I am not sure.

In March 2019, a new developer purchased the land for $130mm (VBP). It's unclear who they bought the land from, but they own the Ice Megaclub parcel as well, so if they were owned separately at the time they apparently arranged for both. This seems unlikely since it is not mentioned in any of the press reporting. Later in 2019, the new owners applied for and received permits to construct a casino hotel - and so the story, apparently, will go on.

Today, the Harbor Island Apartments remain in place and occupied despite their periodically changing ownership. The land all around them is conspicuously empty, apart from the corpse of the Ice Nightclub and the rather pleasant looking building that was once the residential sales center for the W Las Vegas, its still well-kept landscaping an extreme contrast to the dusty expanse of land behind it.

This section of land is one of the major components of the so-called “Harmon strip,” a significant expansion of the Strip eastwards on Harmon expected in the circa 2005 time period that has largely failed to materialize. The Hard Rock Casino, though, has apparently done well, only emphasizing the complete failure of the W/Edge Las Vegas/Las Ramblas.

As a final note, many discussions online mention the Ice MegaClub as a failed nightclub. So far as I can tell, this is unfair. The Ice seems to have been perfectly successful and continued to operate until the land owner refused to renew their lease due to the sale of the land to the Starwood/Edge partnership, even reportedly considering an option to buy out the lease (although it was apparently unable to do so). The Ice, then, was not a failure but a victim of a much larger failure.

  • history/lasvegas/nw_of_harmon_and_koval.txt
  • Last modified: 2023/08/05 16:59
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