Circa’s staggered hotel, casino opening, now part of Derek Stevens’ legacy

  • Derek Stevens, the owner of Circa, faced a serious challenge when one of the workers at his downtown construction site was diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • New social distancing measures came in place and threatened to extend the construction schedule.
  • However, the properties he had acquired before starting to build Circa gave Stevens some relief.
  • Stevens will now open the resort in phases while construction work continues on its other amenities.

Derek Stevens, Circa’s owner, felt like he was in a dilemma when the coronavirus came knocking on the downtown job site, and one of his contractor’s construction workers was diagnosed with the disease.

Stevens was rushing to complete the 480-foot tower and several of its 777 hotel rooms and suites to open the venue in December. The construction timetable was at risk when the management put new social distancing requirements on the construction site.

Among the new measures put in place was to allow a maximum of four construction workers in the industrial elevator they were using to transport workers to the job site’s upper floors.

Industrial elevators aren’t as fast as hotel-finished ones. They are big cages that lurch upwards, large enough to bear heavy equipment together with workers.

The limited capacity of elevators made Stevens realize that he could not put all his workers in place as planned. Trips up and down the tower would take about three to four minutes. He understood that having many workers taking several trips using the elevator would cause serious problems.

image of circa hotel construction site

The Circa owner was also aware of a Nevada Revised Statute that affected gaming properties in Clark and Washoe counties. Under the NRS 463.1605, the law says that a non-restricted casino license must be attached to a hotel or have some other 24/7 amenities. The statute defines a hotel as a venue with at least 200 rooms.

While Stevens was sure of having at least 500 hotel rooms open in December, the dilemma was to finish sufficient hotel rooms and the rest of the resort. He opted to discuss the problem with Sandra Morgan, the Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairwoman, hoping to obtain a waiver to the requirement.

However, Stevens didn’t have to get the waiver. While he was assembling parcels of land to build Circa, he purchased the Las Vegas Club, Mermaids, the Girls of Glitter Gulch adult club. Morgan determined that each of these properties had different gaming entitlements and required no further action from the Control Board.

“The parcels that were combined to create Circa had grandfathered provisions,” Morgan said. “So, as a legal matter, they were able to have a staggered opening and not have everything open at the same time.”

Therefore, despite some jurisdictional confusion, the resort owner will accomplish the end goal.

A Tuesday night VIP party will mark the opening of Circa. A public opening will follow later on Wednesday at 12:01 am.

While the casino, sportsbook, five restaurants, rooftop Legacy Club, and Stadium Swim will be ready, construction will continue on the upper floors’ hotel rooms for a December opening.

I'm Adam Shaw, Senior Editor and one of the first members at VegasSlots. I'm a massive football sports fan but also love casinos and occasional trips to Las Vegas. Gaming runs in the family

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