Hope high for 1st Las Vegas development since recession

(CBS News) The recession hit Las Vegas especially hard, but there's a clear sign that "Sin City" may have turned an economic corner. And you can find it on the city's most famous street.

A Malaysian group is planning the first new hotel and casino the strip has seen in years.

Plans have been unveiled for a new multibillion-dollar hotel and casino complex -- the first mega development proposed in Vegas since the recession. Resort World Las Vegas, will have 3,500 rooms and look like it came straight out of China, with a full casino, water park and replica of the Great Wall of China.

"There is a burgeoning middle class in Asia, particularly in China. Those folks want to travel. Those folks want to come to Las Vegas," said Stefan Friedman, who represents the developer, Genting, a huge Malaysian hotel and casino operator.

It comes at a time when U.S. casino operators are turning away from Nevada investments, finding a larger portion of profits in their Asian properties instead. So, this new mega casino is the best news Vegas has had since the recession brought building on the strip to a virtual stop.

Jeremy Aguero, an economic analyst, said, "We lost 100,000 construction jobs from peak to present. The fact that we're going to put several thousand people back to work developing a project like this is absolutely what this community needs."

The Malaysian developer paid $350 million for land, a steal compared to what properties on the strip sold for before the recession.

Aguero said, "When the market was at its absolute peak, people were buying strip lands at $35 million an acre. This property is trading at about $4 million an acre."

Resort World will be built where the famous Stardust stood.

All that remains of the Stardust now is its space-age sign, preserved at the Las Vegas Neon Museum. It's a reminder of the building frenzy that gripped the city less than a decade ago.

In 2007, the Stardust went out with a bang.

Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who was mayor when the recession hit -- asked if he thought the Stardust lot would still be sitting vacant now -- said, "No, nobody knew this was coming." Now, Goodman's wife, Carolyn Goodman, is mayor. This new resort, they say, is proof Las Vegas is back.

"We have 151,000 rooms," Carolyn Goodman said. "We want to keep filling the beds."

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone remarked, "One of the worries is, you have 151,000 beds, you don't need thousands more beds."

Oscar Goodman said, "Why not? We fill them!"

But there are so many beds that, to fill them, hotels have been dropping their rates, down 18 percent since 2007.

A huge new development remains a risk, but then, taking a chance is what Vegas is all about.

For John Blackstone's full "CBS This Morning" report, watch the video in the player above.

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