Downtown is big business for Detroit native
Continuing to support the rebirth of downtown Las Vegas is Derek Stevens. He bet big on the city when he purchased the Golden Gate in 2008, and after an overhaul the oldest hotel in town shines brand new again. By this October, Stevens will change the face of downtown again with the grand re-opening of the former Fitzgeralds, which has already been rebranded as The D. Kiko Miyasato sat down with The D’s co-owner and CEO to discuss his latest endeavor.
Q: What does “The D” stand for?
A: When you say you’re from Detroit, you say you’re “from the D.” Everybody from that area says that. The fact that we’re downtown and this is the year of downtown, it kind of fit, too. People also say they’re going to come down to D’s (Derek’s) place. That’s what a lot of people call me; it’s just evolved that way.
Q: What made you invest in downtown right now?
A: I think when you look at the underlying aspect of what downtown is, all the stars are aligned to have a good rejuvenation. … With The Smith Center, City Hall, Fremont East, even within the casinos. You’re seeing new bars opening up. I think you’re starting to see a surge of capital being employed and that always bodes well.
Q: What are some of the new changes we’re going to see at The D?
A: Every hotel room on 31 stories will be completely renovated. We’ll have our outside bar with an outside escalator, a moving mechanical device. We hired a designer from Cirque du Soleil to help design this outside bar; it’s going to be really cool. Lots of video … a lot of moving parts—it’s going to be pretty slick. Inside, we renovated both floors of the casino.
Q: What’s the new vibe, the new character of The D?
A: We’re going to have two really separate and distinct areas. The first floor is going to be a lot of LED, a lot of new machines, loud music, dancing dealers throughout the floor. The second floor is going to be more retro and themed around vintage Las Vegas, more neon, coin slot machines.
Q: What qualities do you need to own and operate a casino?
A: You need to have a lot of energy and you need to have a lot of passion—and I can say those two things I don’t lack.
Q: What do you love about this city?
A: There’s this certain entrepreneurial spirit here. This is a great state to do things in, and it’s a great city to be able to do things in, too. It attracts a lot of people with the same (entrepreneurial) quality.