Downtown Grand Hotel-Casino Will Announce It’s Up for Sale

Just when you thought the Las Vegas casino landscape couldn’t get any wilder, we’re hearing the Downtown Grand is set to announce it’s up for sale.

Downtown Grand will begin seeking new ownership within a week. It’s not known if the resort will remain open during the process of finding a new owner.

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

One of our favorite downtown haunts. Please don’t muck with the good parts!

Downtown Grand is owned by CIM Group and operated by Fifth Street Gaming, and was formerly the the Lady Luck, a hotel once described as a “carcass” by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The Lady Luck originally opened in 1964, it closed in 2006. The hotel’s transformation from Lady Luck to Downtown Grand cost about $100 million.

Downtown Grand has 650 rooms and 25,000-square-feet of casino space.

Downtown Grand

Art Bar is a hidden gem at Downtown Grand. Emphasis on “happy hour.”

The resort is part of Downtown3rd, a district which includes Pizza Rock (the best pizza in Las Vegas), Triple George (the best chicken parm in Las Vegas) Grill and Hogs & Heifers Saloon (the best place to take off your bra in Las Vegas).

Downtown Grand is located a block north of Fremont Street Experience, where we hold a day job in marketing. (Downtown Grand is not a member property of Fremont Street Experience.)

While Downtown Grand has received praise for its rooms, dining offerings and pool deck (see below), it’s struggled financially since it opened on Oct. 27, 2013.

Downtown Grand

Downtown Grand’s pool deck was originally called Picnic, but was recently renamed, wait for it, The Pool Deck. Still one of the best pools in downtown Las Vegas.

The hotel’s Asian restaurant, Red Mansion, and its Spread Deli closed in mid-July 2014. The once-popular Mob Bar, previously across the street at Triple George, was also shuttered. It was the dueling pianos. It’s always the dueling pianos.

The hotel’s Ninth Island shaved ice bar was also a casualty of lagging business. The hotel’s promising and over-hyped street dice game crapped out early on.

Downtown Grand’s casino has been an especially difficult challenge. Casino management has made great strides in recent months, with better video poker pay tables and intensified outreach to locals, but the resort being put up for sale appears to mean those efforts have failed to meet expectations.

Downtown Grand

Personal message for Downtown Grand: Please put our high limit Top Dollar machine back. Moving it messed with the mojo. Thanks.

It remains to be seen who might be interested in purchasing Downtown Grand, and if the owners can recoup their substantial investment. That’s unlikely, as the Lady Luck cost about $100 million, and another $100 million was put into overhauling the resort. It’s likely CIM Group has decided the bleeding needs to stop, even if the company is likely to take a painful hit.

The sad part is Downtown Grand has huge potential, but hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together to succeed in a challenging location.

More news to come!

Update (8/20): Changes at Downtown Grand in preparation for finding a potential buyer have been dramatic in recent weeks. Downtown Grand has taken significant steps to reduce labor and other costs, including laying off dozens of dealers, housekeepers and others, as well as reducing the hours of other employees.

Perhaps the most surprising change has been limiting table game hours. Downtown Grand’s table games are not operating only from noon to 2:00 a.m. on weekends and 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on weekdays. Astonishing in a 24-7 town. Thanks to our friends in the Five Hundy by Midnight podcast Facebook group for tipping us off to the change in hours.

There have also been rumors Downtown Grand has removed a significant number of slot machines from its casino floor. Word has it this is to lower the gaming taxes paid, as well as concentrating play on a smaller number of machines to increase the amount of play on those remaining machines.

Anecdotally, since our favorite Top Dollar machine was recently relocated, we have yet to get a Top Dollar bonus after multiple visits. Unprecedented. So, we’re saying the motherboard was swapped out and the machine was tightened up significantly. Share your experience, please.

Update (8/23): A new round of rumors suggest Downtown Grand may close as it seeks new ownership. Read more. Rumored layoffs now number in the range of 80 employees being given their walking papers.

Insiders confirm it’s official: Downtown Grand is being shopped with potential new owners. A sale is hoped for by the end of 2015. The asking price is about what you might expect, but CIM Group is going to take a massive hit.

Interesting times at Downtown Grand!

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  • Steven Brown

    CIM will be taking a bath on whatever they sell the place for. I doubt they’ll even get anywhere in the neighborhood of the $100 million they spent to renovate (which was in addition to the $100+ million they spent to buy the Lady Luck). If the place sells for over $75 million, I would be surprised. Maybe while Derek Stevens has his checkbook out, he ought to make an offer…….

    • That’s a lot of money. Unfortunate, as it was a bold move to re-open Lady Luck. Wish it had paid off for them.

  • JeffinOKC

    Nice place. I thought Seth Schorr & co. did a great job on the renovation and design. Operationally…..it just didn’t seem to ever find it’s place in the market. Shame. I would think Stevens bros. have their hands full now; although I hope not. Kinda hope Boyd would make a run, although they might feel saturated in the downtown market. Possibly Blake Sartini and Golden Entertainment?

  • Kodidog

    Not sure if they have changed their Player’s Club program yet to include room offers for low/mid rolling Canadians. When I inquired the two times I played there, it was ‘in the works’. Walking off Fremont up there and finding a Ghost Town inside the doors (no matter HOW good those Pizza Rock meatballs were) did not seem appealing the last time we were in Vegas.

  • Mr. Bill

    Interesting times downtown – I hadn’t thought of Golden until now, but since they just got a casino here in W. Maryland, it makes sense that they could then market Las Vegas – seems to be how Penn is doing it. Only concern is that since they just paid a ton for Rocky Gap, they seem to take this slowly and this obv would require some more capital.

  • Edwin Rojas

    This would be another gem for Derek’s growing portfolio!

    • Agreed, but I think he’s got his hands full. Time will tell!

  • swany

    The Grand sucks. Lures you in with $1000 cash back offer (but with MANY, MANY small print restrictions). Did I mention the Grand SUCKS?

  • 78goldwing

    We stayed there in April & loved it. Did well in the casino too!

  • Clownboy64

    I’ll open the bidding at $9.99!

    • It’s a great resort, actually! Maybe a new owner will shake things up.

  • boulder steve

    That location is cursed. Maybe Boyd should buy it and rename it the Hawaiian.

    • NHBill603

      It wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Falcon Falcone

      would be a stroke of genious

  • Bill B

    Very sadly from day 1 the DG operations have been hampered by two problems. Firstly the whole thing was marketed to the wrong clients. The upmarket, high rolling crowd won’t stay at the end of an alley downtown.
    Secondly, & more damaging, the hotel casino was run, with a view, to simply recoup the initial outlay. It should have been run by casino professionals not accountants.
    I truly hope it sells to a committed casino experienced group. DT needs ALL the casinos to be thriving.

  • stevez49

    People was hoping for another Lady Luck. Big surprise.

  • Wally Marshall

    I think if CIM had hired an actual operator with lots of experience instead of someone with ZERO experience, they may have had a shot at success. We continually hear stories of the operational madness going on at the Grand, and then they promote the person responsible for operational disfunction, HA! Its a nice place and hope who ever gets it hires a seasoned operator. If the debt is reasonable, the place should be successful but they need a garage or parking.

    • mugadoon

      We have always had great luck with the Valet. I don’t want to walk across the street to self park in the garage.

  • mugadoon

    This is a shame. The place is an absolute gem, but the management sucks. They have not gone out of their way to make people stay loyal. We have stayed there three times in the last year, and despite all the money we spend, we never get any decent comps. Where is the incentive to come back and stay when we can get better comps at any Boyd casino? I hope whomever buys it makes more of an effort to keep the Players Club members happy. It really is a nice place.

  • AtariBasic

    The only reason we’ve never stayed at Downtown Grand is the resort fee. I can get a room at MSS and just walk if I feel like visiting DG, so I’d rather patronize a property that doesn’t try to sock me with hidden (sorry, “clearly disclosed in the fine print”) fees.

  • Johnny Lawless

    I wonder if they ever settled with the guy they got plastered drunk and took his millions at blackjack. They had bad karma from the beginning.

    • Trust that case was settled. We’re all just a little slimier for it having happened.

  • Falcon Falcone

    When i was last there, all the doors were closed and blacked out, on a friday night. Music down low, i felt scared to talk there, like a library. From FSE, it looks like nothing is down there worth visiting. How about opening the doors? Loud music? Street lights?? Just insane how terrible they are running this place

    • They’re working on enhancing their outdoor signage, but there are definitely challenges.

  • Dave

    As a couple-times-a-year Vegas visitor, I had been relatively strip-bound out of habit mostly. The last few years, I’ve been spending more time downtown and spent a few sessions at the DG early this year. I liked it – kinda reminded me of the old Sahara vibe – friendly craps crews, etc. I’m somewhat sad to hear it’s failing so quickly. I would definitely have patronized it again. (And enjoying this blog Scott. It helps to keep up since things change so quickly between my visits.)

  • David W Macchia

    “The Lady” needs a tender touch that hopefully the new owners will provider her because she has been handled by bunch of old sailors who think they still 19 and on shore leave in the early 1970’s. Sadly that can be said about most properties downtown. For this property to succeed needs to focus on several different areas at once. 1) Interactive multi-person gaming. 2) Guest retention strategies that include amenities that walk the walk like complete property wide WI-fi coverage and a specialty coffee program integrated into the bar outlets. 3) Loose the resort scam nonsense, they have a pool like most hotels, big whoop. 4) The staff needs to be empowered to engage the guests because on my last visit it was not happening. 5) North 3rd Street needs to completely turned into a walk-able pedestrian mall with some sort of roofing coverage not only for the Downtown Grand’s prosperity but downtown as a whole needs to grow to keep the crowd it has now and to expand on it.

  • Bob

    Just stay there this weekend rooms not what’s on web site and should have listened to reviews about the noise level . Was on the 18 floor in a suite loud music that 4:00 bad when u check in to room with ear plugs on nite stand . One and out