Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Expansion Project

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is undergoing an $800 million expansion project. A massive expansion to one of Las Vegas’ most popular attractions is now open to visitors. Construction recently finished on two guest room towers, an expanded casino floor and music venue, and other new attractions at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The multi-phase construction project started in 2007 with the addition of a 6,000-square-foot poker room and a new nightclub, Wasted Space. In early 2008, work started on the 17-story, 490-room Paradise Tower as well as a 20,000 square-foot central plant, a new 60,000 square-foot convention and meeting facility, and an expansion to The Joint, the hotel’s main music venue.

In summer 2008, work started on the HRH Tower, a 15-story all-suite guest tower with 374 suites, including seven penthouses and eight pool villas; a 30,000-square-foot expansion to the hotel’s casino space; and a parking garage with 1,500 additional spaces. Work started last year on a 2.3-acre swimming pool. Other features of the expansion include a new spa, nightclub, and shopping and restaurant space.

The two new guest towers, expanded parking garage, meeting areas, central plant and casino expansion all opened last year; the pool opened in spring 2010. On the infrastructure end, a $12 million box culvert and drainage channel designed to improve the complex’s stormwater retention capacity was completed in July 2008.

The design of the expansion fits in seamlessly with the existing casino and hotel, which remained open during construction, says Brian Feigenbaum, executive vice president for development for Hard Rock Casino & Hotel. “We kept it in the theme of the original Hard Rock, but took it up a notch, really making it the Hard Rock for the future,” he adds. The general contractor was M.J. Dean Construction Inc. of Las Vegas.

The expansion utilizes 8 acres of a 23-acre parcel owned by the Hard Rock. The rest of the space will remain undeveloped for now, Feigenbaum says.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was built in 1995 and underwent its first expansion in 1998. The current expansion came about after the Morgans Hotel Group bought the complex in 2006.

Before the expansion, the complex featured 650 rooms, a 30,000-square-foot casino, a parking garage with 1,500 spaces, and The Joint, which had a capacity of 1,800 people standing. With the expansion, the new music venue can now hold up to 4,400 people standing.

Exceeding Expectations

The project came in under budget, which Feigenbaum attributes to a good relationship with M.J. Dean and a development staff that understood how to build and execute a project of this magnitude. Other factors include the ability to understand how critical the phasing of the project was and what acceleration needed to be planned for in advance, as well as favorable weather conditions, he adds.

The project also boasts impressive safety numbers, with very few injuries reported. “We hit safety numbers no one has encountered,” Feigenbaum says. “It was pretty amazing as to how low the injury rate was.”

Brand Allegiance

At the time expansion plans were launched, the Las Vegas construction market was very active, with new projects such as the City­Center development and others announced, Feigenbaum says. “The Hard Rock wanted to expand to keep up with the competition and attract people,” he adds.

While the recession slowed down a number of the city’s projects, construction at the Hard Rock continued unabated and ahead of schedule. “You couldn’t tell how much of a toll the economy had taken,” Feigenbaum says. “People still kept coming here and had a reasonable tolerance with noise and construction because they’re attracted to the brand.

“People love the idea of rock `n’ roll at a casino; that demographic is very important to us,” he notes.

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