The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has purchased the Riviera Hotel and Casino (also known as the Riv) from JP Morgan for $182.5 million on Friday, February 20, 2015. The Riviera, which opened in 1955, observes its 60th anniversary on April 20. Now the hotel will face the same implosive fate as so many Las Vegas properties, including the Dunes, Hacienda, Sands, Frontier, Aladdin and Stardust (among others). Paragon Gaming, the company chosen to oversee final operations, will close Riviera’s doors on May 4, 2015. The rooms, restaurants and shows (including longtime staple Crazy Girls, which has enjoyed a 27-year run) will remain open until this date. The future implosion translates into 2,000 hotel rooms and 140,000 square feet of meeting space going up in historic dust, something Las Vegas sees a lot of.
In fact, the sale is part of a much larger plan for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority (LVCVA). LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter envisions expansion and renovation plans for the 26-acre acquirement to include 750,000 square feet of new exhibit space and 187,500 square feet of extra meeting space. This will take LVCVA holdings all the way to the Strip. Therefore, Ralenkotter also foresees a monorail, or another type of people mover system, to transport conference-goers from the main Convention Center South Hall to these newer exhibit and meeting areas.
The expansion is part of the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Global Business District project, which will be complete in approximately five to eight years after construction begins. LVCVA sales staff has already begun booking additional tradeshows and conventions with the expectation of bringing 25 new shows and 480,000 additional visitors to the city.
The Riviera enjoyed a rich history. Built for $10 million, the hotel had nine floors, 291 rooms and was considered the first Las Vegas high-rise. Liberace headlined and Joan Crawford served as hostess when the hotel opened on April 20, 1955. Like many early resorts, the hotel had strong connections to organized crime. Specifically, Meyer Lansky, known as the “Mob’s Accountant,” who had ties to Charles “Lucky” Luciano. Another Lansky tie was Gus Greenbaum, who was brought in to manage the Riviera.
Unfortunately, Greenbaum developed deep gambling and drug problems which pushed him towards embezzling from the Riviera. He and his wife were found murdered at their home nearby in Arizona. No ties to the casino were discovered.
One Riviera staple that is sure to be missed is the Crazy Girls show. The show has enjoyed a long 27-year run. The iconic, life-size bronze statue featuring seven lined up “Crazy Girl” topless performers in G-strings is pictured below. The seven face the wall, so tourists and locals have a look from behind. The bronze sculpture has adorned the sidewalk in front of the Riviera with their G-stringed derrieres facing pedestrian tourists since 1997 is owned by Crazy Girl Producer, Norman Aleman. The sculpture is the subject of many, many tourist photo shoots. Aleman plans to relocate the statue to another Strip location.
The Riviera is located at 2901 S. Las Vegas Boulevard. Visit rivierahotel.com or call 855-468-6748 for more information or to experience the “Riv” for the last time.