Las Vegas: Never-opened Harmon Hotel can be demolished, judge rules

<i>This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.</i>

The Harmon Hotel, which was to have been one of CityCenter’s lodging choices when the complex opened almost four years ago, can be demolished, a judge has ruled.

It’s unclear what will happen to the prime piece of real estate on which the never-opened Harmon sits in CityCenter, a project estimated to have cost $8.5 billion when it opened in December 2009.

District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez on Friday approved CityCenter’s petition to tear down the 26-story structure, acknowledging the public safety risk if the building were to collapse during an earthquake.

In documents filed with the court in July, lawyers for CityCenter alleged that the tower, which fronts on Las Vegas Boulevard between Crystals shopping center and the Cosmopolitan resort, is riddled with “construction defects.”

Those defects could result in catastrophic damage during a quake, according to Weidlinger Associates, a Marina del Rey engineering firm.


The court filing noted that “the Harmon tower will be severely damaged during a major earthquake and critical structural elements, such as transfer elements, are likely to fail and lead to a partial or complete collapse of the tower.”

The lengthy court document predicted a 50% chance of such a quake within 30 years.

Because of structural concerns, the Harmon did not open with the rest of CityCenter in December 2009. It remains a shell and has become a giant billboard on which CityCenter attractions are advertised.

Demolition could take up to one year, according to Gordon Absher, MGM Resorts’ vice president of public affairs.

“A previous plan submitted at the county’s request indicated implosion would be the safest, most efficient method [of demolition],” Absher said in an email. However, based on further structural tests conducted this year, that plan is now being reevaluated.

“We are asking experts to analyze the data and give us their recommendations,” he said.

[For the Record, 12:23 p.m. PDT Aug. 27: An earlier version of this post reported that CityCenter was an estimated $8.5-million project. It was an $8.5-billion project.]

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