Open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district aims to create a new type of visitor experience on the Las Vegas Strip.
BY JOANNA HAUGEN | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013
Las Vegas resort-casinos have historically been designed to keep visitors inside, without clocks, windows, or easy access to exits. With several dining options; a variety of entertainment choices, gaming opportunities, and accommodations; a selection of pools; and an array of spa services and shopping all contained in a single place, the resorts on the Las Vegas Strip serve as one-stop shops. The theory is that guests never have to leave their property of choice.
This on-Strip standard of confinement is being reimagined and redefined with the introduction of The LINQ, an open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district anchored by the world’s tallest observation (Ferris) wheel—known as the High Roller. A Caesars Entertainment project, The LINQ is located between The Quad Resort & Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas (both of which open to The LINQ), directly facing Caesars Palace.
The area was formerly an alleyway leading into a parking garage that an estimated 20.4 million people pass by annually, which made the decision to build the project in this space a no-brainer for Caesars Entertainment. “The goal in mind is really to create a critical mass of nightlife, dining, and entertainment,” says Jon Gray, general manager of The LINQ. “A lot of great cities have cool streets to walk through, and we saw that there was a void in Las Vegas.”
Live entertainment and al fresco (outdoor) dining throughout The LINQ are expected to create a vibe that appeals specifically to Generation X and Generation Y (ages 21 to 46, roughly), but there is something for everyone in this new development. “We’re creating an elevated experience on the Strip, but we don’t want it to be intimidating,” Gray says. “We didn’t want to offer another high-end shopping center.”
More than 30 retail, dining, nightlife, and entertainment venues will line the street at The LINQ. “In the conception of The LINQ, we knew we wanted to have new Vegas offerings, things that had never been done before,” Gray adds. “But we knew we wanted to have a balance, so we also wanted tenants that had great brand awareness. However, we pushed those tenants to do something unique.”
– This multidimensional entertainment venue, popular in New York City, will have a 2,000-person performance area, 32 lanes of bowling, and a nightclub. “There will be a concert every night of the week; an incredible mix of huge name bands and great indie bands, too,” Gray says. A performance lineup has not yet been announced for Brooklyn Bowl at The LINQ, but the New York venue has hosted artists such as Adele, Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
– For one of the best views of The LINQ, visitors may want to visit Chayo Cocina, which will have a balcony overlooking the whole area and the High Roller. The menu at Chayo Cocina will have food made exclusively from authentic Mexican ingredients, and there will be a large tequila selection available.
– Combining food, art, music, and entertainment, F.A.M.E. is a two-story dining experience. “On the first floor is an Asian market, but with a new-age twist. Think Asian food trucks,” Gray says. The second floor will house a sushi lounge and grill.
– Cassel Goorin began making hats in 1895, and the tradition continues today at this neighborhood shop. Men and women can choose from a selection ranging from classic to modern, including ball caps, fedoras, bowlers, knit caps, and more.
Off the Strip
– A bistro with a history in Las Vegas, this Italian restaurant is already a locals’ favorite. Menu items include steak, pasta, chicken, and fish dishes along with traditional American comfort food.
– People who have thousands of photos on their phones but haven’t done anything with them can finally liberate their images at Fotobar. “You can walk in with your phone and turn the photos into Polaroids that you can walk out with,” Gray says. There are also options to turn those images into wall art murals and other forms of art.
– Designed to feel like a burlesque dressing room with sparkling red walls and royal blue upholstered insets, Ruby Blue will carry a wide variety of women’s accessories. Handbags, costume jewelry, and novelty legwear share the space with a collection of sexy games and toys.
– This cupcake bakery creates handcrafted goodies in small batches with ingredients that contain no preservatives, trans fats, or artificial flavors. It will be the first Sprinkles location to feature artisan ice cream flavors and red velvet ice cream cones as well as a cupcake ATM.
The Stomping Grape
– “Couples will love to hang out here,” Gray says. This wine bar features a casual lounge, an extensive selection of wines, and light, contemporary California Wine Country cuisine.
– A locals’ favorite when it comes to dining in Las Vegas, Yard House at The LINQ will be located near the High Roller, and it is expected to be different than the others found around the city. “This is the biggest one in their portfolio,” Gray says. “They’re adding a balcony and have a great covered-patio experience.”
Construction on this pedestrian-friendly space began in November 2011, and by New Year’s Eve, the first phase of The LINQ—including O’Sheas, a popular Irish pub—will be open. The majority of The LINQ should be open by the end of February 2014, with the High Roller debuting shortly thereafter.
Topping out at 550 feet, the High Roller will be the largest observation wheel in the world. Twenty-eight spherical cabins will each hold 40 guests. Traveling at one foot per second, the High Roller will take roughly 30 minutes to make one full revolution. In creating the wheel, designers learned from the engineering of the London Eye and Singapore Flyer.
“We really wanted to create a new icon on the Las Vegas Strip, and I think we’ve achieved that,” Gray says. “I think the High Roller will be something that everyone needs to ride—and will want to ride, both tourists and locals.”
Tenants at The LINQ are currently setting their hours. Brooklyn Bowl plans to host a concert, DJ set, and potentially an after-hours set nightly. The High Roller is expected to be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. “We may also have sunrise flights if we see a great demand,” Gray says. Ticket pricing for the High Roller is still being finalized. As a local-friendly attraction, Gray says he anticipates there will be a lower price point for Nevada residents.
From the streets of the pedestrian-friendly outdoor walkway to the top of the High Roller, the overarching goal of The LINQ is to create a place where people can easily hang out unconfined by the walls of the typical Las Vegas casino resort—a visionary concept that has the potential to change how people embrace their experience on the Strip.
“There are a million scenarios that can pan out once people enter The LINQ,” Gray says. “It’s a great spot for tourists and locals to meet up and start their night, be there the entire night, or end their night.”
By the Numbers
3.5 million — pounds of steel used in construction
44,000 — weight of each cabin (pounds)
550 — height (feet)
225 — length of cables (feet)
112 — # of cables used in construction
40 — # of guests each cabin holds
30 — time (minutes) it take to make one full revolution
28 — # of spherical passenger *cabins
*The cabins will feature dynamic video and music shows that will fade away to show riders impressive views of the Las Vegas valley.
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