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‘Wait, Wait Don’t Implode,’ Judge Says


By Jill M. Speegle

More items for Good Technical Practice

Hold the explosives! A Nevada state judge has put the kibosh on plans to implode a structurally unsound hotel in MGM Resort International’s $8.5 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas.

Why? MGM, which originally asked for the demolition of the Harmon Hotel, now says it wants to do more testing and gather more evidence at the site for an ongoing lawsuit.

The hotel is at the heart of the lawsuit between the general contractor, Perini Building Company, and MGM.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez had given the go-ahead to demolish the tower in July. But reports indicate she did not do so without reservations.

Perini has been opposed to the demolition from the outset.

In addition to pressing the pause button on the building’s annihilation, Gonzalez has also pushed back the start of the jury trial from June 2013 to January 2014.

Flaws Stop Construction, Spark Legal Battle

Intended to open in 2009, the Harmon made it only to 26 stories (out of 46 planned) when 2008 inspections revealed flaws in steel reinforcements in concrete walls, columns and beams, according to reports.

The project was halted, and the legal feud between the builder and owner ensued.

Reports note that MGM wanted the building demolished after the city ordered the company to mitigate the “hazardous conditions.” The owner requested the court’s permission in March, and it was granted in July.

Harmon Hotel

Wikimedia Commons

Construction on the 46-story Harmon Hotel in CityCenter in Las Vegas was halted at the 26-story level in 2008 when construction defects were discovered.

Builder v. Owner Showdown

Perini claims the building’s problems stem from design flaws, but MGM argues the contractor is to blame for the building’s structural deficiencies, according to reports citing court documents.

Perini brought the suit in March 2010 and has since lodged a $300+ million lien against the property owner for unpaid construction bills, reports said. The company is also in litigation with some subcontractors over their role in the project.

In arguing against demolition, Perini has said it could repair the building for a price tag of about $21 million, reports relate.

Now, MGM is countersuing, seeking nearly $400 million for construction flaws related not only to the Harmon but to the entire CityCenter complex, reports indicate.

Complex Has Fire Station

Owned by MGM and Dubai World, the 67-acre CityCenter complex includes residential and commercial spaces, a casino and hotel. It has been billed as the largest privately financed construction project in U.S. history.

The complex even has its own fire station, which might come in handy if they ever do blow up the Harmon.

The Harmon wouldn’t be the first building on the Las Vegas Strip to end its life in a cloud of dust.

No, no, many others have come before…the Sands, the Aladdin, the Stardust, Desert Inn, and Castaways.

But, for now, I guess we’ll just wait and see.


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Commercial Construction; Construction; Health and safety; Inspection

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