Marriott International has cut ties with the unfinished former Fontainebleau, the long-postponed resort project on the Strip.
Marriott spokeswoman Sara Conneighton confirmed Thursday that the hotel chain “recently reached an amicable settlement with the hotel’s owner that has resulted in Marriot exiting the project”, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Marriott had been involved in the project since early 2018. With its disengagement, the Fontainebleau will now operate as it was originally planned. The hotel-casino is a 60+ storey, multibillion-dollar project that has come under new ownership three times in the past decade, and still never opened.
In July, Marriott announced plans to finally open the building by 2023 under the name JW Marriott. A website dedicated to the future hotel has since disappeared.
Florida developer Jeffrey Soffer’s firm Fontainebleau Development - the project’s original developer - acquired the property in February. In the light of Marriott’s disengagement with the project, the company stated that they will operate the casino when it opens.
“The agreement with Marriott International was made with the building’s previous owner”, a spokeswoman for Fontainebleau Development said. “Having come full circle and taken ownership of the site in Las Vegas, we intend to fulfill our original vision and deliver the same extraordinary hospitality experience that our guests have come to expect from Fontainebleau Development”.
The firm has not yet announced when it expects to resume construction and open the resort, nor has it unveiled what the hotel will be called.
The Fontainebleau project was born in 2005, led by Soffer and former Las Vegas casino executive Glenn Schaffer. However, the real estate market soon crashed and the unfinished project went bankrupt in 2009.
Carl Icahn acquired the property in 2010, and later sold it to developer Steve Witkoff and real estate firm New Valley. In 2018, Witkoff and Marriott unveiled the resort’s new name, Drew Las Vegas.
The project was expected to open by 2022. However, with the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, construction was suspended. Soffer reacquired the property in partnership with the real estate wing of Kansas conglomerate, Koch Industries. The new owners acquired debt on the project and gained ownership through a process that avoided foreclosure.