Another mark to make

Angelo Falconi, 82, is still making his presence known, this time on the Las Vegas skyline

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From the Steel City to Sin City, land baron and businessman Angelo Falconi continues to make his mark on the world at age 82.

Plans recently moved forward to begin selling luxury condominium units at his $850 million Pinnacle Condominium Resort in Las Vegas, and a deal is in the works to revamp the former Falcon Plastics plant in Canton into a biofuel manufacturing plant that will employ about 100 workers.

A rendering of The Pinnacle in Las Vegas.
Click photo for larger image.

Mr. Falconi was widowed for the second time when his wife, Paula, 52, died in May. Last month, his twin sister, Melinda Falconi Borrelli, died. Mr. Falconi recently was hospitalized and unable to comment for this story.

Four years ago, he granted exclusive access to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, agreeing to the only interview he ever has given, despite numerous requests. Reclusive and shy, Mr. Falconi continues to live in his longtime home in South Strabane and at another house near the Club at Nevillewood in Collier.

Several years ago, Mr. Falconi gave his time, money and name to Falconi Field, a minor-league baseball stadium in North Franklin, and he was among a handful of investors who, in 1999, helped keep the struggling Penguins hockey team in Pittsburgh.

While Mr. Falconi is modest and apprehensive about public attention, his business ventures, controlled mostly by his primary company, The Falcon Group, certainly could not be described that way. Mr. Falconi still has involvement with about two dozen businesses in four states, including car dealerships and real estate and other investment ventures.

In what was described as "the single biggest project we have ever been involved in" by Mr. Falconi's business associate and in-house accountant, Anthony Marinelli, the Pinnacle Condominium Resort has been branded as the most significant new "vertical community" in Las Vegas.

On 12 acres of Las Vegas' West Strip, the Pinnacle will feature 36-story twin towers adjoined by "sky bridges," amenity-rich residences with panoramic views of the strip and of the Red Rock Mountains, and resort attractions.

With nine individual floor plans, the studio, one-, two- or three-bedroom residences will range from 588 square feet to 1,884 square feet and are priced from $350,000 to $1.3 million. Surrounding the rooftop gardens and recreation deck will be a limited number of loft-like townhome residences of 889 square feet to more than 2,238 square feet. On the upper levels of the two towers will be penthouse suites that range from 3,000 square feet to more than 5,700 square feet. Spanning the towers will be Pinnacle's sky bridge suites, ultra-luxurious, two-story, glass-clad residences each with its own rooftop garden and panoramic view. At more than 3,400 square feet, the sky bridge suites start at more than $5 million.

"It sounds incredible," said Michael A. Towers, project director of The Falcon Group. "It takes your breath away."

The Falcon Group, comprising Mr. Falconi, the chairman; Mr. Marinelli, director of finance; and Ed Morascyzk, Mr. Falconi's nephew and chief counsel, took on additional partners for the project, including Mr. Towers, a hotel industry expert, and Praxis Resources Inc. a Bridgeville real estate development company. Also a partner is Elysium Enterprises, led by Mike Bellon, a Las Vegas real estate developer and entrepreneur.

Mr. Falconi bought the property more than 20 years ago for Falconi's Tropicana Honda, an automobile franchise which he sold in 1999. He retained much of the property, along with other undeveloped acreage in the area, and the city is now the fastest-growing real estate market in the country.

It wasn't the first time Mr. Falconi had an inkling of big things to come. He might own more property in Washington County than any other person, and, although he has a fifth-grade education with two years of military school, Mr. Falconi parlayed his natural business savvy into success, foretelling that foreign cars would become popular in the United States.

After working in a used car lot as a teenager, Mr. Falconi bought a Ford franchise at 19 and went on to open about 30 more automobile dealerships in six states.

His father, Cesare Falconi, and his uncle, Dominick Falconi, came to America with the belief that property is money. A true story that became Falconi folklore involved the time his father and uncle passed farmland in Cross Creek, prompting Cesare to comment that he wanted to look into buying it. When he did, he discovered he already owned it.

Mr. Falconi and his first wife, Alice, raised one son, Angelo M. Falconi, 49. Alice Falconi died in 1979, and Mr. Falconi remarried 21 years ago.

A noted philanthropist, Mr. Falconi has continued his charitable efforts, Mr. Marinelli said, supporting colleges, hospitals, charitable foundations and youth organizations.

Because Mr. Falconi owns the Pinnacle land in Las Vegas, financing for the project is expected to go smoothly, and an initial $40 million loan was approved several weeks ago, Mr. Marinelli said.

Groundbreaking is expected around November, and construction is expected to take about two years, Mr. Marinelli said.

"He wants to see this thing built," Mr. Marinelli said of Mr. Falconi. "He wants to walk through the lobby at the ribbon cutting."

Plans also are on tap to open a business at the site of the former Falcon Plastics in Canton. Mr. Falconi was credited with saving hundreds of jobs in 1998 when he bought the then-MAC Plastics minutes before it was to be sold off in pieces at a bankruptcy sale.

In 1959, Mr. Falconi and two partners had developed MAC Plastics, a 550,000-square-foot building on 30 acres. The "A" in MAC stands for Angelo. In 1979, they sold the plant, but when it began faltering in the mid-1990s, local officials and workers looked to Mr. Falconi to save the 250 jobs and the company.

Mr. Marinelli said Mr. Falconi poured more than $12 million into the plant, but it never made a profit. It closed in November.

Now, Mr. Marinelli said, The Falcon Group has a deal in place that will use a foreign technology patent to convert recycled material into biofuel products. The deal is expected to be finalized soon, and construction on the revamped facility should begin in six to 12 months. The new plant will employ 100 people and it will be unique to the area, he said.

"It will be something not seen in this part of the country," Mr. Marinelli said. "I think it's going to be something with benefits that will extend far beyond Washington County."

Mr. Marinelli said that, despite his age, Mr. Falconi remains active in his businesses and is committed to leaving a legacy that his family will be proud of.


Janice Crompton can be reached at jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 724-223-0156.


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