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Upscale Mall Set for Vegas Resort

May 26, 1999

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Forget blackjack and slot machines, where’s the shopping?

Yet another casino is planning an upscale shopping center.

The Aladdin resort’s 500,000-square-foot Desert Passage promises to transport shoppers from Spain to Africa to India through exotic marketplaces and street festivals with shops, restaurants and night clubs along the way.

``We wanted it to feel like you’re going through a movie,″ Paul Beirnes, director of marketing for Desert Passage, said Tuesday at the retail industry’s International Council of Shopping Centers conference. ``There’ll always be something going on.″

The $250 million Desert Passage is set to open in spring 2000.

But can Las Vegas really support another mall on the Strip? The city already has the Forum Shops at Caesars, the Fashion Show Mall and many casinos have mini malls inside their properties.

On Monday, Circus Circus Enterprises announced it is entering the shopping business with a planned high-end retail complex linking the company’s Mandalay Bay and Luxor resorts.

Tourists seem to be validating the shopping buildup.

Visitors spent more last year on dining and shopping and less on entertainment and gambling than they did in 1997, according to the 1999 Las Vegas Perspective, which chronicles the economic growth in the city.

The Las Vegas Strip will add more than 3 million square feet of new retail facilities over the next two years, creating 15,000 new jobs and generating annual revenues of $2.8 billion.

Jack Illes, vice president of strategic design for Desert Passage developer TrizecHahn Development Corp., said the Desert Passage will have an edge because its entrance will be right on the Strip; shoppers won’t have to enter the casino first.

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