12/12/2003 1:00AM

New projects call for an even greater expansion


Red Rock Station, a new Station Casinos project planned for Summerlin at the junction of Charleston Boulevard and the I-215, has raised some eyebrows. Station would like to build a 30-story tower that will carry 1,500 rooms, and local residents are having a conniption over that.

The Station concept is to take its gorgeous Green Valley Ranch blueprint in Henderson to the next class level in Summerlin. It's an exciting idea whose final shape will be determined in commission meetings. The price tag for Red Rock Station: $400 million.

Red Rock Station is a high-profile "tip of the iceberg" expansion of gaming in Las Vegas. As if an incredible 130,000 hotel rooms were not enough, thousands more are on the way. If you're looking for signs of a slow economy, look elsewhere.

Station also plans to invest $110 million for an expansion of its Green Valley Ranch property. That move would add 296 more rooms.

While Station's size makes it the leader in the locals market, Coast Resort is playing an aggressive "Avis" in the No. 2 position.

Coast has two major projects on the table: the South Coast and the North Coast. South Coast is a $325-million, 750-room casino planned for the southwest corner of Silverado Ranch Road and South Las Vegas Boulevard. It is to be fashioned after the company's wildly successful Suncoast in Summerlin.

South Coast is much further along than the North Coast, which is planned for the southwest corner of Centennial Parkway and Lamb Boulevard in North Las Vegas.

One of Coast Resort's mainstays, The Orleans, will undergo a $100-million expansion with the building of a 460-room, 21-story tower.

The Maloof family, which owns The Palms, is considering a tower expansion that would add at least 500 rooms to the property on Flamingo. The question is more a matter of when, not if, the Maloofs will build.

The Strip, of course, is not to be outdone. The Venetian opened its new tower this year to add 1,013 more rooms. Mandalay Bay, on the south part of the Strip, is just days away from opening its new tower, which will contain another 1,122 rooms.

The Bellagio is progressing on a $375 million, 925 room Spa Tower to add even more luxury to the most luxurious property in Las Vegas.

Caesar's Palace is developing a $376 million, 949-room tower that will raise its room capacity to about 3,400.

The Bourbon Street casino is talking about building a 32-story tower on Flamingo, across from Bally's Las Vegas. It would house hotel rooms and time-share suites.

Last, but certainly not least, is the $2.4 billion Wynn Las Vegas, which, so far, is on time for opening in early 2005. Built on the site of the old Desert Inn, Wynn Las Vegas will add another 2,071 suites to the city's inventory.

There is rumor that nearby properties to Wynn Las Vegas, the New Frontier and the Stardust, may have something up their sleeves, too.

It seems that a slogan Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made famous - "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way" - has been taken to heart in this town.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap Up Radio Show.