Is new construction on the Strip a sign of more to come?
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Anticipation is building for the Linq Project, which will bring new restaurants and shopping to the strip, along with the world's tallest observation wheel.
Action News got a tour of the construction site Tuesday, where work is quickly moving along. The outdoor entertainment center, between The Quad and The Flamingo, is set to open next year.
It's not the only project gaining momentum. Just down the street, Bill's Gambling Hall & Saloon is being transformed into a luxury boutique hotel-casino known as The Gansevoort.
Further north down the Strip, The Sahara is turning into the swanky SLS. And the the partially-built Echelon project, which has gathered dust at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Desert Inn for years, is set to be revitalized by a new investor. Work on that complex will begin next year.
"We've noticed massive change," says Lisa Parker, who's traveled to Las Vegas from England four times in the past 10 years.
But change isn't the only thing many tourists notice.
"There are a lot of empty properties when we're walking around and touring," says Lawanda Aldridge, from South Carolina. "I'm not sure why. It's kind of sad."
The Fontainebleau is one of those empty properties. It's been standing as a steel skeleton across from Circus Circus since 2009.
"The Fontainebleau was 70 percent completed, when construction stopped," says David Schwartz, the Director for Gaming Research at UNLV. "It still needs a lot of work, but it's far enough along in construction, that an investor can't really customize it completely. That's a deterrent. It would mean putting a lot of money into a property that's already going to be about ten years old by the time it opens."
Then there's the stalled Skyvue Project - another observation wheel and entertainment complex planned across from Mandalay Bay. Concrete pillars stand in it's spot, as a reminder.
"There seems to have been a lot of financial challenges with that project," Schwartz says. "They've got quite an uphill battle if they plan to open."
Overall, Schwartz believes the new construction and investment on the strip, is a sign of improvement. But the many unfinished buildings still sitting vacant, prove there's a long way to go.