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MGM Resorts wants to implode unopened hotel at CityCenter

August 15, 2011 |  2:37 pm

Harmon hotel 
Casino company MGM Resorts International apparently knows when to cut its losses.

The company has asked Clark County for permission to demolish the defective Harmon hotel tower on the Las Vegas Strip — without ever opening it.

MGM Resorts said Monday that it wants to implode the stylish blue oval tower because structural defects prevent it from being used, the Associated Press reported. A structural engineer said in a report last month that the building wouldn't hold up in a strong earthquake.

The Harmon is part of CityCenter, an $8.5-billion joint venture development with Dubai World that opened in December 2009. The Harmon, originally planned as a boutique hotel with condominiums run by a nightlife company, faced problems throughout its construction and was topped off at half its intended height because of problems with the spacing reinforcing steel.

MGM Resorts, which owns such Las Vegas properties as Bellagio, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay, has asked Clark County for permission to implode the Harmon in six months.

The company said it would need four months to clean up afterward, including clearing dust from the Las Vegas Strip, an intersecting street and at least two Las Vegas casinos, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas next door and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino across the street.

More from the Associated Press:

The alternative, MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Absher said, would be to conduct even more tests for 18 months to come up with a proper design to fix the tower, then another two to three years to rebuild the hotel.

"We have been assured by demolition experts that a properly executed implosion will not pose health or safety problems for residents, visitors and adjacent businesses," Absher said.

MGM Resorts and main contractor Tutor Perini Corp. are in litigation over the construction bills, with Perini arguing the design was structurally sound. Perini officials say MGM Resorts' structural report from an independent engineer was a tactic aimed to bolster its legal battle.

Clark county requested a plan from MGM Resorts last month after the engineer found that the building was not only unusable, but a public safety hazard.

A county spokesman acknowledged that MGM Resorts' plan was received and said county officials were reviewing it, but declined further comment.

The back and forth between MGM Resorts and Clark County building officials is separate from the litigation between the company and Perini, but a judge's order for MGM Resorts to hold off on any plans for the building would have to be lifted for the implosion to take place.


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Photo: The unopened Harmon hotel tower, to the right of the neighboring Cosmopolitan hotel. Credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times