by Andy Holtmann
Sahara Hotel & Casino bought by Hollywood producer
The Sahara Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip will be changing hands following an agreed-upon sale of nearly 17.5 acres of land that includes the property to Hollywood movie producer Sam Nazarian and his Los Angeles-based SBE Entertainment Group.
The Sahara, bought by Bill Bennett in 1995 for $193 million, was being operated by his wife, Lynn and her brother Al Hummel following Bennet’s death in 2003. Lynn Bennett died in December of last year. Terms of the remaining family members’ sale to Nazarian were not disclosed, but according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, sources indicate the sale is valued at between $300 million and $400 million.
John Knott, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis’ Global Gaming Group—retained last year by the Bennett family to explore sale options—said Nazarian has big plans for the 1,720-room Sahara.
“They have some tremendous renovation plans for the Sahara, which made them a very compelling buyer,” Knott said.
SBE spokesman Michael Doneff told Bloomberg News Service that Nazarian has not yet finalized plans for the property. “Capital investment, timeline of improvements, what will be upgraded, theme changing-none of these can be answered right now.”
Nazarian also owns several restaurants and nightclubs, as well as real-estate and hotel divisions, which include the Ritz Plaza in Miami’s South Beach area and the Le Meridien in Beverly Hills, Calif.