Two weeks after revealing plans for a new permanent exhibition in Denver, Meow Wolf on Thursday announced a partnership with a prominent New York City real estate family that will expand the company’s work to a new-concept retail, dining and entertainment development in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Santa Fe-based Meow Wolf, a for-profit arts business that opened its House of Eternal Return immersive art exhibit in 2016 inside a former bowling alley on Rufina Circle, is the first publicly announced anchor tenant of AREA15, a development set to open in mid-2019 in a Las Vegas neighborhood near Palace Station.

AREA15 is a joint development of the Fisher Brothers and Beneville Studios, a design and architecture firm led by Michael Beneville. Both are based in New York City.

“We don’t think retail is dead; we think retail has changed,” said Winston Fisher, one of four brothers who spearheads new initiatives for the family firm founded in 1915. He said AREA15 will be a cutting-edge experience for visitors that offers best-in-class dining, retail and entertainment as well as space for events, concerts, exhibits, sculpture and art.

The project includes 126,000 square feet of tenant space, including a mezzanine and space for indoor and outdoor venues for up to 3,000 spectators, as well as parking for 800 vehicles. Meow Wolf Vegas will be approximately 50,000 square feet, of which 40,000 square feet will be an immersive art experience, twice the size of the Santa Fe space, the announcement said.

Fisher anticipates it will become a magnet for creative businesses, gaming and visual arts. “These are experiences that aren’t online, they aren’t on Amazon,” Fisher said, “and people want them.”

Meow Wolf is no stranger to Las Vegas, where it hosted temporary exhibits at outdoor festivals even before the House of Eternal Return opened. Fisher said his partners heard Meow Wolf was looking to expand outside New Mexico and worked hard to recruit them to AREA15 with economic incentives.

“We worked very hard to get them and are very happy,” said Fisher, an extreme sport athlete who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Syracuse University. “I can’t think of a better anchor tenant to have.”

In fact, the company planned its entire groundbreaking around the Meow Wolf announcement — with an event that included Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Fisher said they will now work with other potential businesses that want to lease around the new space. An open house for brokers and potential tenants was planned Thursday night.

For Meow Wolf, which started as an arts collaborative by Vince Kadlubek and six partners, the announcement is the second new venue unveiled so far in in 2018.

On Jan. 3, Kadlubek said Meow Wolf signed an agreement to build an exhibit in downtown Denver with an opening set for 2020. At $50 million, the Denver project is set to be 90,000 square feet in the shadow of the Denver Broncos home stadium, three times the size of the Santa Fe installation.

John Feins, company spokesman, said the Meow Wolf Vegas project, set for an opening in late 2019, is off the Las Vegas Strip and in a part of the city that will appeal to the city’s 2 million residents as well as visitors.

“Both Denver and Vegas feel like this is the right thing for them at the right time,” Feins said.

George R.R. Martin, the Game of Thrones author who purchased the former bowling alley space to help launch Meow Wolf, said in Thursday’s announcement, “I couldn’t be more excited to learn what weirdness we’ll find behind the new doors that Meow Wolf will be opening in Las Vegas.”

A Santa Fe resident and arts supporter, Martin also purchased the small Jean Cocteau Cinema next to the Santa Fe Railyard and reopened it to showcase classic movies as well as talks and events with other writers. Kadlubek was hired to work at the cinema, where he met Martin.

Meow Wolf’s Santa Fe workforce is now about 200, Feins said, and each new location will have about 100 employees when the venues open.

Most of the construction and fabrication of the exhibits will be done in Santa Fe in an old Caterpillar plant in a south-side industrial park. With the help of public grant funds, Meow Wolf purchased the building last year with an eye on the expansion projects, with more growth to come.

“We are talking to other cities,” Feins said. “We’re hopeful, though we’re not sitting on anything at the moment.”

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https://www.labula.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/img_Meow-Wolf-announces-permanent-exhibit-in-Las-Vegas-Nev-1024x683.jpghttps://www.labula.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/img_Meow-Wolf-announces-permanent-exhibit-in-Las-Vegas-Nev-150x150.jpgBobby SotoUncategorizedTwo weeks after revealing plans for a new permanent exhibition in Denver, Meow Wolf on Thursday announced a partnership with a prominent New York City real estate family that will expand the company’s work to a new-concept retail, dining and entertainment development in Las Vegas, Nev. The Santa Fe-based Meow...