Implosion of Casino-Hotel Rocks Vegas

Wed January 25, 2006 - West Edition
Ken Ritter - Associated Press

LAS VEGAS, NV (AP) A hotel-casino that opened in 1955 as the Showboat and was more recently known the Castaways collapsed into history when it was demolished by implosion Jan. 11.

The 19-story tower, which stood alone approximately 3 mi. east of downtown Las Vegas, had been closed since changing hands in a bankruptcy proceeding in January 2004.

A staccato series of explosions reduced the 447-room building as planned into a 20,000-ton heap of rubble and raised a huge cloud of dust just after dawn on a sparkling clear morning.

“It just went real smooth,” Las Vegas Fire Spokesman Tim Szymanski said as street sweepers deployed on closed thoroughfares and neighborhood streets.

“They had it well-coordinated,” he said. “No problems at all.”

The property, which as the Showboat hosted professional bowling tour events, changed hands several times in the 1990s and struggled for several years before being crippled by a tourism slowdown following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The current owner, Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc., has not announced plans for the site on Boulder Highway near Charleston Boulevard.

“By Las Vegas standards, this was a spectacular implosion,” said Lori Nelson, spokeswoman of the company.

The implosion was triggered by 191 detonations of a total of 195 lbs. of explosives placed on four floors of the building, Nelson said. It took just 18 seconds.

Demolition was conducted by several companies including Controlled Demolition Inc. of Baltimore.

The same company in 2001 imploded the 15-story Augusta tower at the Desert Inn, a symbol of old Las Vegas on the city’s famous Strip that was removed to make way for the Wynn Las Vegas project.

Controlled Demolition also handled implosions of the Dunes, Landmark, Sands, Hacienda, El Rancho and Aladdin casinos in Las Vegas.

The demolition came after crews spent months stripping the Castaways building of recyclable materials. Several lower floors were left as steel superstructure before the final blasts.

The Castaways closed Jan. 29, 2004, after creditor Vestin Mortgage foreclosed on VSS Enterprises.

Station Casinos bought the property in October 2004 for $33.7 million in a three-way deal involving Vestin and MGI Group, the owner of two other small casinos in the Las Vegas area.