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Vegas Hotel Razing Plan Gets Review

Wed September 07, 2011 - West Edition

LAS VEGAS (AP) County officials in Sin City are asking the owners of a defective 26-story hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for more information on their recommendation to implode the building to relieve a public safety risk.

The plans submitted by CityCenter owners MGM Resorts International and Dubai World don’t sufficiently explain why imploding the building is the best option, or how its data relates to computations determining capacity and demand, the director of Clark County’s building division said in the letter obtained Aug. 23 by The Associated Press.

The division wants a meeting with facility officials at CityCenter to go over their analysis, which called for the building to be imploded in as soon as six months, Director Ron Lynn of the county building division said in the letter.

County spokesman Dan Kulin declined to comment on a possible date for the meeting.

MGM Resorts International spokesman Alan Feldman said the company never thought an implosion would happen quickly and would be happy to discuss the plan with county officials.

“It is completely understandable that the county would want more information,” Feldman said. “This is an important discussion to be had.”

Casino owners MGM Resorts International and Dubai World sent the county its plans after being asked to say what should be done to fix the threat of a building that wouldn’t hold up in a strong earthquake.

The Harmon was originally planned as a boutique hotel and condo tower to be part of the $8.5 billion CityCenter.

It was supposed to open in December 2009 with the rest of the 67-acre complex of hotels, entertainment and a casino. But problems with reinforcing steel in the construction led MGM Resorts to shorten the tower in half and put off its opening at least a year. It never opened.

MGM Resorts will have to get approval from a judge in Las Vegas before imploding the tower, even if the county decides it’s the best thing to do and issues permits.

A judge’s order in a construction bill lawsuit from contractor Tutor Perini Corp. prevents anything — fixing or razing — from happening to the building now. Perini contended that the building is structurally sound and said MGM Resorts wants the implosion to bolster its legal case and keep from opening new hotel rooms in a saturated market.

The blue cylinder building with glass siding sits on the Las Vegas Strip just south of Harmon Avenue, across from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas resort, which opened in December. Implosion experts say it could be brought down safely by removing glass and other materials, then using explosives to drop it straight down, creating a pile of rubble.

Dust would spread onto the Strip and nearby buildings, but can be quickly cleaned without evacuations, experts say.

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