Amid $340M property renovation

Rio Hotel's new owner proposes skybridge to link Las Vegas Strip with redeveloped neighborhood

Reading time 1:22 min

The new owner of Rio Hotel & Casino is embarking on a $340 million renovation project to revitalize the iconic neon resort and enhance its connection to the Las Vegas Strip.

Presently, guests must navigate a 10-minute walk on a deteriorating sidewalk along the I-15 freeway overpass to travel between the Rio Hotel and the bustling heart of Nevada's tourist hub.

Eric Birnbaum, CEO of Dreamscape, the company that acquired the Rio Hotel in 2019 for $516.3 million, aims to streamline this commute by constructing a landscaped pedestrian bridge directly linking the Rio to Caesars Palace over I-15, KLAS said. Drawing inspiration from New York City's elevated High Line, Birnbaum envisions a similar elevated pathway atop the former railway.

We are very much in the middle of those conversations with all the county commissioners, with a lot of different constituents. This is an area that we think, you know, has a reason to exist and we want to market that,” Birnbaum said.

In addition to improving access to the Rio, Birnbaum envisions a revitalized business "neighborhood" to the west of the freeway, encompassing neighboring properties such as The Palms and The Gold Coast hotels & casinos. He points to the success of Fremont Street, located miles from the Strip, as evidence of the potential viability of a redesigned community closer to Nevada's main tourist destination. The neighborhood would also be in proximity to Chinatown businesses.

“Why can’t the same thing happen west of the Strip here, and create a real neighborhood, and create a destination?” Birnbaum said. “I can’t get into all the details, but suffice to say we, along with some of our neighbors in this general area, (we) would love to bring and revitalize this whole neighborhood."

While the concept has been in existence for approximately a year, there is currently no timeline for its implementation. Necessary approvals and construction will likely extend the project's completion into the future, while ongoing renovations at the Rio are expected to conclude around 2025.

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