Vegas has its gondolas. Vegas has its Eiffel Tower. Vegas even has its Celine Dion (blame Canada). But what it doesn't have, says developer Mark Advent, is "a real, organic city center where people can gather." His fix? Build one. And make it just like New York's.
Meet "East Village." Set to open in mid-2007, Advent's 44-acre, $225 million retail complex will give gritty lower Manhattan a very Vegas makeover. What to expect: a "Grand Central" market, a "Meatpacking District" nightlife zone, cops on horseback, surly hot-dog vendors and a "Diamond District," where shoppers, promises Advent, can "haggle for deals." Not that you'd find any of these (mostly midtown) attractions in the actual East Village. Says partner Mark Vlassopulos: "It's an hommage."
Sin City has bitten into the Big Apple before: the glam New York, New York resort, also an Advent creation, opened in 1997. But lately Vegas has ditched uptown glitz for downtown cool. With seminal punk club CBGB facing an Aug. 31 eviction, owner Hilly Kristal is mulling a move to Fremont Street. "The mayor really wants me there," says Kristal, who has photographed each of CBGB's graffitied walls for later reproduction. "Vegas has sought me out." And on Aug. 27, "Avenue Q" (whose puppet protagonists live on N.Y.C.'s fringe) debuts at the new Wynn hotel. The only thing missing? "Outdoor pickle barrels," says Kristal. "Not in that heat."