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Palazzo

Making space for ND

An exclusive peek at ND’s lofty, lively aspirations for the third floor of the Shoppes at the Palazzo

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Whereas the august hotel and casino magnate Steve Wynn likes to pop the top on his new projects with a champagne-soaked bang—opening casino, restaurants, retail and lounges simultaneously as he did at Wynn Las Vegas—it would appear, at least to this writer, who has had to shuttle over to the Palazzo repeatedly for tours since the casino’s opening, that the equally august hotel and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson prefers a slow, controlled fizz.

I’ll explain: First came 40/40, which bore the brunt of the December 30 partial-opening rush. Next came Dos Caminos, and with it the since-defunct Sala Lounge, which held down the property’s nightlife situation … for about five minutes. Then there was news of the impending Saturdays at the Ultra Lounge at Dal Toro Ristorante and Lamborghini Las Vegas. This very Friday, Sugarcane Boutique Nightclub opens within Sushisamba in the Shoppes. Lavo is due to open any day now just inside the Palazzo’s main rotunda. And maps of the Shoppes read “Coming Soon” for Floridian import Automatic Slim’s Rock & Roll Bar in the former home of Venus and then Vivid, at the Venetian.

So what the heck is going on with the third floor of the Shoppes, just above Barney’s?! It’s the future, kids. And it’s bright.

Back in late February (“State of the nightlife union,” February 28) I wrote: “Speaking of space, the intriguingly named ND’s Space will touch down in the Palazzo shops on August 29. When completed, the lounge, intimate theater and One Shot coffee shop will occupy the entire third floor of the shops. The lounge’s six large windows and terrace are currently visible from the street.” And so they still are. Thankfully, construction has commenced, though like many projects, it has experienced delays. When I toured ND’s Space last Monday, there was still much to be done.

Owner Nicole Durr, or as she much prefers to be called, “ND,” has put on hold for a short time the progress of her Space ship while she installs her show Raw Talent Live at the Sahara and works on the creation of an even larger future show, Fuego. The woman behind the Stardust’s Havana Night Club show, ND loves high-energy theater and is fully ensconced in Raw Talent’s September 12 opening. But this show, too, must go on, and construction has started back up on ND’s Space.

When it finally opens in Spring 2009, it will be the Palazzo’s largest nightclub, with roughly 21,000 usable square feet encompassing the lounge, One Shot Espresso Experience and the theater, which morphs into the dance floor and nightclub.

Entering the Shoppes from either the Venetian or the Palazzo, all roads lead up. The short escalator ride from the second to the third floor drops guests off in an octagonal hall. One grand entrance leads to the lounge, while a side entrance leads directly to One Shot; both are expected to open in the evening, as early or as late as needed. From within, all three spaces connect.

Outside, the Palazzo and ND are working together to transform the third floor, creating a more cohesive transition from the classical to the ultra-modern. Also sharing the octagonal third floor hall are two retail spaces where Chef David Burke—reportedly now on board to handle the food aspects of ND’s Space’s catering affairs—might install some sort of late-night eatery to tame those post-clubbing cravings.

Entering into the 8,500-square-foot lounge, guests will proceed through a long hall lined with seating, those aforementioned windows and shallow patio overlooking the Strip, and the first bar. A turn off to the right leads to One Shot. Continuing through the lounge, the DJ booth marks the entrance to a large room, the lounge’s VIP section, complete with a second bar. Already, ND is in talks with top talent to helm the booth, and a Las Vegas nightlife icon, veteran music director Frankie Anobile, has recently come aboard as well.

The walls inside One Shot are constructed of a single piece of white Corian and curve up to become the ceiling. There, guests will sip fair-trade Ethiopian coffees in Baccarat service ware, served “correcto” with tiny accompanying cocktails. “I was enchanted by the discovery of this project,” says Mike Milner, general manager of ND’s Space and former MGM executive director of nightlife. Upon signing on, he was immediately dispatched to Ethiopia, from which he emerged two weeks later with a combination of Sidamo and Harrar coffees. “It was a definite quest!” And we shall be the beneficiaries of ND’s commitment to authenticity. This is, after all, the same woman who fought for the freedom of her Cuban cast members at the Stardust, supporting them through the largest mass defection from the country to date. Expect to see her influence and personal touch on every single detail.

The remaining space is given over to the 420-seat theater, so intimate that concert tickets will be auctioned off online. The headlining talent will be A-list only, and concerts are expected to occur once every two weeks in the beginning. After the performance, the floor seats utterly disappear into the structure, I am told, leaving only the permanent side balcony, which will serve as a VIP section as the theater transforms into the nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights. With all venues open, ND’s Space can accommodate between 1,100 and 1,400 patrons. And all surfaces will have the ability to change color and design as the entirely white space is a virtual blank canvas upon which loads of projectors will be working their magic. Says ND, “Whatever we dream of—ND’s Space can become …”

“I feel this will be something that people will be amazed by when they first step into the space,” says operations manager Natalia Badzjo, formerly of Studio 54.

Just outside Space’s windows, progress continues with the construction of the Palazzo’s 270-unit condo tower, a future phase said to bring with it yet further nightlife. Progress cannot be stopped, but we can certainly savor moments of pause with each completed effort. Enticingly, ND’s Space looks to be something worth savoring.

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