Friday, April 9, 2010
People ask what I think of Vegas Seven, the new weekly intended to compete with the Las Vegas Weekly and CityLife funded as a joint venture between WENDOH Media and Observer Media Group.
I guess here's one answer: I like it enough that I'm finding stories in it to poach for my own work. And the first one of those actually comes from Vegas Seven's first issue, a piece by Brian Sodoma on Stephen Siegel, the 39-year-old entrepreneur behind the Siegel Suites apartment complexes that have popped up all over town. I did this lengthy profile for Portfolio.Com which posted yesterday.
Until I saw Sodoma's piece, I assumed it was a national chain that had found its way to Vegas; then I realized he's built this little empire here and that he may be one of the few people doing well in Las Vegas real estate lately.
Siegel is worth watching for two reasons. One, his formula of giving out free meal tickets to tenants who pay their rent is a fascinating means of herding them into his casinos, the refurb'd Gold Spike and a place near Nellis AFB now called Siegel Slots & Suites.
Yet in addition to renovating decrepit apartment buildings, he also bought the funky Artisan just west of the Strip and the shuttered St. Tropez immediately south of the Hard Rock. The latter is undergoing a $3 million remodeling job and is due to open this spring as Rumor, a 150-unit Palm Springs-style non-gaming boutique hotel. Here's a sketch of those rooms:
Siegel claims he can get $130 a night right out of the box over there, which drew skepticism from Las Vegas Advisor publisher Anthony Curtis in my piece. Curtis thinks it needs a little casino to be viable; Siegel is only putting in a few bar-top video blackjack machines as "an amenity." There'll also be a restaurant and nightclub.
Siegel's also now the co-owner of the Mount Charleston Lodge. When I told him that place has always had the absolute worst German restaurant and tourist trap, he insisted they'd fixed that. I may have to get up there and see. I always loved it up there.
Finally, Siegel's interesting because he doesn't sit still. Here's the concept boards for his next project:
Senor Jugos is his plan to open Jamba Juice-like places in Hispanic neighborhoods. It's so random. I asked him why and he says that in his long history working with Latino people -- he owned a few auto body shops in L.A., obviously has thousands of tenants -- led him to an epiphany: "Hispanics love juice."
Interesting guy, possibly a future player in the tourist corridor. Hopefully, a good read, too.