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To be something Grand

Las Vegas CityLife Editor Arnold knightly poses at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oct. 14, 2013. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas CityLife Editor Arnold knightly poses at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oct. 14, 2013. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

There would be nothing better for downtown Las Vegas than to see the owners of the Downtown Grand succeed with their $100 million investment.

The former Lady Luck reopened in late October owned by the CIM Group, but overseen by Downtown Grand CEO Seth Schorr.

I first met Schorr in January 2008 after he led an investment group purchase of the then Speedway Hotel and Casino in North Las Vegas. Schorr and his partners upgraded the facility, changed the name to the Lucky Club, and Schorr’s casino executive career was underway.

Closing in on six years later, Schorr’s gaming company has grown into including not only Lucky Club, but also merged with Silver Nugget Gaming, owners of a group of small local casinos.

But those properties pale in comparison to the challenge before Schorr now.

Schorr and his team were tapped by the CIM in early 2011 to get the shuttered Lady Luck up and running. CIM had held majority ownership since 2007, but had made little headway getting the casino redeveloped and reopened.

In turning to Schorr, they get a young casino executive with powerful connections. Who else could get casino mogul Steve Wynn to an opening of a downtown casino?

Schorr is the son of Marc Schorr, former gaming executive and longtime associate of Wynn going back to Wynn’s operation of the Golden Nugget. Basically, the younger Schorr grew up with a casino industry world-view shaped by the man credited for shaping the modern Vegas Strip.

Walking around with Seth Schorr last week, it was the first time I had seen him in more than three years. In that time, he had gone from overseeing a small North Las Vegas casino to heading a gaming company overseeing a $100 million investment.

His attention to detail is accute.

Schorr seems to have a lot of Wynn’s legendary attention to detail in his managing style. Positioning of employees, where gaming machines are located, and the desire to present the highest customer service were evident during our 45 minutes together.

Downtown Grand is off the main tourist path of the Fremont Street Experience, so it will have to become a destination. CIM has plans to build a retail center next to the Mob Museum, so foot traffic around the property could change if itis built as planned in the next three years.

Downtown Grand adds 634 rooms, 600 slot machines and 30 table games to a downtown inventory that hasn’t seen a new property opening since Main Street Station nearly three decades ago. Well, the Golden Nugget opened a new 500-room hotel tower four years ago, but Binon’s 365-room tower remains closed since late 2009.

In 2005, the last full year Lady Luck was open (it closed in February 2006) downtown nonrestricted gaming revenue was $654.2 million. Last year it was $509.1 million after two years of sub-$500 million revenues. How much of that market the new casino can carve out, or even grow, will be interesting to watch.

With the young Schorr at the helm, CIM probably couldn’t have a better chance of success.

I know I’m not the only one rooting for him.

ARNOLD M. KNIGHTLY is the editor of CityLife. Follow him on Twitter @KnightlyGrind.