Las Vegas Wayne Newton attraction to get bigger

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wayne Newton's proposed tourist wonderland in Las Vegas is devoting more space to his collection of celebrity keepsakes, including Nat King Cole's watch, a Frank Sinatra champagne glass and a Johnny Cash guitar.

Revised building plans submitted last month show a Las Vegas company turning Newton's home into a sprawling tourist playground is expanding a museum space devoted to the singer's favorite memorabilia. A theater where he is expected to perform is also getting beefed up.

When Newton isn't on stage, the 71,187-square-foot movie house will run a documentary about his life.

A Newton-themed car wash will also be larger than originally planned to accommodate tour buses. The expansions mean the proposed zoo and car museum will be slightly smaller, according to building plans obtained by The Associated Press.

Newton received permission last year to turn his lavish home into a tourist venue after a bruising battle in which his neighbors said they didn't want tour buses invading the largely residential neighborhood where Newton built his 10,000-square-foot home decades ago.

The plans call for opening to the public Newton's Casa de Shenandoah estate, with its South African penguins, sweeping crystal staircases and an antique-filled living room gilded in gold.

The museum, theater, visitors' center and other attractions were being added to the property. The project appeared well under way Sunday, as bits of newly-constructed buildings jutted up behind the 10-foot-tall walls that shield his property from a nearby bustling road.

The 40-acre estate also features Arabian horses, Impressionist paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and 17th-century antiques collected from European castles. An office to the right of his living room houses mementoes collected during his 50-plus years in show business.

Some of the keepsakes were gifts from the mentors and friends who helped make Newton famous, including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin and Jack Benny.

Newton, his wife and their daughter are expected to move into a smaller house located on the property, ceding the main house to the public.

Newton has said the tourist attraction will be both a showcase for his collections and a tribute to some of the performers that made Las Vegas a celebrity haven. The revamped estate is expected to employ more than 400 people at a time when unemployment in Nevada is above 13 percent, the highest rate in the nation.

Newton's high-pitched voice made him a Las Vegas headliner decades ago. He became internationally known for his hits "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," and his signature song "Danke Schoen."

A spokesman for CSD LLC, the company building the attraction, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The project was originally expected to open late this year, but it appeared the grand opening was pushed back.