Biggest Las Vegas Projects That Were Never Built

The glittering oasis in the Nevada desert, Las Vegas, is infamous for its extravagant hotels crammed with some of the most popular casinos in the gambling industry and larger-than-life entertainment. 

For all the monolithic buildings housed on the famous strip, many more bright ideas for mega properties have fallen at the concept stages. These architectural remnants provide a window into an unrealised Las Vegas. Below, we take a look at some of the biggest projects that never happened in Las Vegas.

The Xanadu

In the late 1970s, plans were announced to build a mammoth Egyptian-themed resort known as The Xanadu. The planned hotel, costing $150 million, included a massive casino and an indoor Nile River in the same 20-story-tall pyramid shape. Once completed, the gigantic structure would house more than 1,700 rooms.

Complete with real Egyptian artefacts and hieroglyphics, the building would have been a true immersion into ancient Egypt. The grandiose plans included luxury amenities like hanging gardens, a rooftop solar energy plant, and an extravagant light show. 

Though conceptually sound, financial problems and struggles faced with zoning led to its cancellation in 1980; this would mean Nefertiti’s Resort remained a vision never constructed in Las Vegas, leaving the city without her own piece of Egypt.

The London Resort & Casino

Styled after a slice of Britain in the heart of the Las Vegas strip, The London Resort and Casino was announced as a potential project sometime around 2003. The $1.8 billion project would have featured copies of British landmarks like Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, had it actually been built. 

The plans also featured a miniature version of the River Thames which you could ride a boat down and miniature politicians spanning from Piccadilly Circus. Containing traditional pubs, a theatre district presenting West End-style shows, and even an imitation of Buckingham Palace where the changing of the guard ceremony was to be performed daily. The truly massive resort aimed to provide guests with an experience of British culture. 

But the seeds of this ambitious venture were destroyed by the 2008 economic downturn, and there were no hopes of bringing a slice of British panache to the deserts of Nevada.

The Harmon Tower

The Harmon Tower was once part of the expansive CityCenter complex, but construction halted when it reached 28 stories on what was supposed to be a 49-story luxury hotel and condominium. Construction commenced in early 2006 on what was to be more than 400 hotel rooms and 207 residential units with views of the Strip.

The elliptical glass tower by Foster & Partners was intended to be a signature architectural statement at the heart of the CityCenter development. But in 2008, inspectors found serious structural flaws, including improperly installed reinforcing steel. The tower was eventually torn down in 2015 after it sat unoccupied and incomplete for years, never shining as the new star on the Strip.

The Las Vegas Plaza

The Las Vegas Plaza, which was announced in 2007, is to become a $5 billion mega-resort based on New York’s Plaza Hotel. It was to offer 3,500 rooms in three hotels, a casino of approximately 175,900 sq ft (16,347 m2), and be home to a plethora of restaurants. 

The project was to bring a taste of New York-chic mixed with Broadway theatres to Las Vegas, featuring high-end boutiques, top-tier restaurants, and entertainment venues. It was to include a multi-million-dollar water feature that could compete with the hallowed fountains of Bellagio. 

The plaza was planned to feature a significant amount of convention space for both leisure and business travellers. This prime piece of Strip real estate sat undeveloped for years, even with some of the deepest pockets in Vegas behind it, mirroring how economic volatility can signal doom despite a project being generously funded and incredibly ambitious.

The Fontainebleau Las Vegas

The Fontainebleau, the most well-known of Las Vegas’s unfinished projects, started in 2007 as a $2.9 billion, 68-story resort. Desnouee wrote plans for this blue-glass tower, which included 3,889 hotel rooms combined with a massive casino totalling 100,000 square feet and another few hundred thousand for retail spaces. The design included two pools, a spa, and multiple four- to five-star restaurants. 

The project went bankrupt before it could finish, achieving only 70% completion in light of the global financial crisis in 2008–2009. Completed only up to 23 stories, the blue glass tower remained a blight for more than a decade and was clearly visible from much of the Strip. 

Its half-finished shell loomed large as a testament to the Great Recession’s grip on Sin City. The project, left in various stages of construction for years amid legal battles and changes of ownership, was started anew after being sold last year to new developers who plan to finish the tower under a different brand and with their own vision.


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