MGM Resorts International intends to implode Foster + Partners’ unfinished Harmon Hotel due to “serious structural defects” and “public safety concerns,” the company announced on August 15. The news comes a month after the release of a report claiming the Las Vegas building was beyond repair.

Harmon Tower
Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Demolition is not a sure bet, however. County officials have to approve the demolition plans. Plus, MGM would have to get a Clark County district court to overturn an order that prohibits the company from touching the Harmon while civil litigation continues between MGM and the general contractor, Perini Building Company.

The 28-story oval-shaped tower anchors the corner of CityCenter, an $8.5-billion hotel-entertainment complex that opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December 2009. It will take about 11 months, as proposed, to bulldoze the Harmon and tidy up, according to MGM, noting that saving the building would take years.

“It would take approximately 18 months to conduct tests and come up with an approved, permitted design to fix the Harmon, if repair is even a possibility,” MGM said in a written statement. “If the necessary additional testing and analysis showed that repair was possible, it likely would take another two to three years to complete.”

But the contractor disagrees. “We can provide stamped drawings detailing all necessary repairs within three months,” said Perini Building Company in a written statement. “The Harmon does not present any current life-safety issues, even for a ‘code-level’ seismic event. It’s clear that MGM had buyer’s remorse in moving forward with the Harmon during the real estate downturn.” 

MGM has already spent at least $279 million on the Harmon. Due to construction problems, the building’s original design was lopped in half in January 2009, shedding 207 high-end residences, of which less than half had sold, according to reports. The project is now mired in a legal battle over unpaid bills and construction defects, namely improperly installed reinforcing steel inside link beams on 15 floors.