As Opening Approaches, Stakes High for CityCenter
October 6, 2009
CityCenter, the highly publicized $8.5 billion mixed-use project now under construction on the Las Vegas Strip, has been saddled with problems: the death of six construction workers, a lawsuit between development partners over rising costs, and funding woes brought on by the global credit crisis.
Additionally, a tower designed by Foster + Partners, the Harmon Hotel & Spa, will be considerably shorter than planned due to construction defects (reinforcing steel rebar was improperly installed on 15 floors). The oval-shaped glass building will now be 28 stories, instead of 49.
Despite the complications, work on CityCenter has proceeded, with most of the complex slated to open this December. “CityCenter construction continues to be on track as planned,” said Robert Baldwin, CityCenter president and C.E.O., during a September 1 investor conference call.
Billed as the largest private development in the U.S., the 18-million-square-foot, 76-acre complex departs from the stereotypical Vegas aesthetic, with sleek Modern designs by Foster, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Murphy/Jahn, Rafael Viñoly Architects, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Kohn Pedersen Fox. All of the buildings are designed to achieve a Silver or Gold level of LEED certification. The complex also features $40 million worth of public art installations by high-profile artists such as Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, and Claes Oldenburg.
While it promises to make a strong visual impact, CityCenter will be opening during a drastic economic downturn in Las Vegas, with record unemployment and far fewer visitors. In August, gaming revenue was down 11 percent, or $89.5 million, from a year prior, while taxable sales dipped nearly 22 percent, according to a recent report. Jim Murren, MGM Mirage chairman and C.E.O., is placing his bets on CityCenter, which he expects will spur an increase in tourists next year. “CityCenter will be one of the great urban communities of this century,” he adds, “attracting visitors from around the world.”