Luke Brugnara


Real estate tycoon of the new millennium enters
Las Vegas to bring north end of strip to new level...

By Peter Guzzman


Those of us who read the daily paper and watch TV are intimately familiar with the weekly news stories about youthful computer wizards who claim overnight fame and fortune with Internet based ideas. This new breed of entrepreneur lose their "paper" net worth very often over night as quickly as they make it as new ideas supercede their innovations.
Las VegasIt is not often that you read of a real estate phenomenon, an entrepreneur who has somehow "unlocked" the secret of putting together deals and significant net worth with the simplest business in the world — the purchase and sale of real estate. It does not take much education or intellect to understand the rules that govern making money in real estate — buy low, sell high; however, the number of individuals that succeed in the business at the highest level (several hundred million dollars) can be counted only on one hand. Luke Brugnara is one of these unique phenomenons who has literally gone from a negligible net worth to a net worth of over a quarter of a billion dollars in less than seven years without the use of any partners.
Las VegasBrugnara, 35, began his real estate career in 1988, two months after he graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Communications. He began working at a private mortgage banking firm where he learned the idiosyncrasies of commercial real estate finance. As he assisted others in obtaining finances for proposed real estate deals, it became readily apparent to Brug-nara that the key ingredients to a successful real estate maker were to 1) have a very good deal, and 2) have the guts to move on the deal immediately without hesitation. He continued to watch moderately successful real estate players engage this simple philosophy with remarkable results. Brugnara soon learned that money is always available for a good deal. The key is to find that deal before anyone else and make the purchase by tying up the property with cash to enable yourself to close the deal.
Las VegasBrugnara patiently waited for that first deal which came three and one-half years later in 1992 when Brugnara was able to purchase a $12.5 million first TD on a property in downtown San Francisco through bankruptcy court from American Savings for only $1.5 million. Brugnara was able to get such a great deal on the property because the lender was going to write the deficiency as bad debt and needed the property off their books; they had been party to the bankruptcy for over four years and spent nearly $800,000 in out-of-pocket additional expenses… the property was literally handed to Brugnara for this negligible price. Brug-nara immediately took out a $3 million mortgage on the property and used the extra money to make four additional purchases of distressed commercial real estate in 1993. These four purchases were eventually sold less than six years later for over $30 million in profit as this capital seeded larger purchases for Brugnara.
Las VegasSoon all of San Francisco took notice of Brugnara’s real estate conquests and began referring to him as "Lucky Luke" as he had made a significant fortune in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country (San Francisco) right under the noses of some of the most experienced real estate investors in the country. Lucky Luke was praised for his ability to make decisions to purchase real estate right on the spot and often made deposits on his purchases within hours of hearing of properties for sale from his tight knit group of brokers.
Las VegasBecause Brugnara closed on each and every deal which he entered into contract and because his meteoric rise to power and wealth in downtown San Francisco nearly happened overnight and took the business community by surprise, Brugnara has earned a reputation as an aggressive, maverick real estate deal maker who is batting 1000% and is very much the person to watch.

Luke Brugnara is Sliver City's new owner

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Luke Brugnara
Las Vegas
Luke Brugnara, real estate tycoon
Las Vegas
Las VegasWith over one million square feet purchased during 1993-1998, Brugnara became the largest 100% fee owner of real estate in downtown San Francisco. His business strategy of not having partners was instrumental in his massive accumulation of wealth as the property values in San Francisco rose 440% over the last five years.
Las VegasLucky Luke entered the Las Vegas market in early 1999 looking to purchase The Desert Inn at the advice of one of his longtime broker/advisors, George Connor, Senior Vice President of Colliers International. Connor recommended that Brugnara purchase this prime site because of its proximity to the Convention Center and its landmass. Brugnara was able to strike a deal with Barry Sternlitch of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to sell him the parcel for $295 million with Brugnara putting down $80 million and Starwood carrying a note for $215 million. The only contingency was that if Starwood received an all cash offer Brugnara could be "bumped" out of position. This in fact did occur as Starwood received an all cash offer from Sun International, and later Steve Wynn, thus Brugnara had to seek his foray onto the Strip elsewhere.
Las VegasConnor then produced the Silver City Casino and Las Vegas Shopping Plaza as an alternative for Brugnara. Situated at one of the key intersections of the Strip (at Convention Center Drive), this site was one of only 14 corners on the infamous Strip and a very strategic location. Connor orchestrated an overnight deal, which bound the distressed owners of the site to sell to Brugnara for approximately $40 million. Connor also managed to bring in Walgreens to occupy a store in the center, which is the highest rent paid by Walgreens in the world for a term of 50 years; the value of the lease alone was $108 million! Brugnara simultaneously closed the Walgreens lease and the property November 1999.
Las VegasBrugnara has commissioned Tony Marnell, one of the most experienced architects/contractors in Las Vegas (Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island, Rio, New York-New York) to bring to the Strip at this prime corner location a 3,000 room mega-resort casino. This new resort will lay claim as the crown jewel of the north end of the Strip as evidenced by Marnell’s attention to perfection and detail. Brugnara has secured financing for the project, which will center around the theme of San Francisco. Additionally, Brugnara intends on developing one or more of the additional north end Strip sites with Marnell’s unique concepts which are being kept top-secret at this time.
Las VegasThe timetable on the mega-resort is 24-28 months from licensure by the State of Nevada Gaming Commission. Brugnara’s license is scheduled to be heard in about one month. Silver City will be kept open during the construction of the resort as planned by Marnell. Only during the final phase will it be closed down to allow for the final phase of construction before the Grand Opening in early 2003.
Las VegasIf Brugnara’s past is any indication of his future, you can certainly expect over the next five years that the north end of the Strip will be transformed into a spectacular entertainment and gaming wonderland that is on par with the other current Strip super resorts.
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