City Center is ready to debut after months of headlines

In the 61 months between MGM Mirage’s announcement to build an urban metropolis called Project City Center on Streep and plans to open its first hotel, Vdara, on Tuesday, $8.5 billion in development seems to have been spent on sustainable life support.

As soon as MGM Mirage blew up a closed boardwalk casino on May 9, 2006, clearing much of the city center site, the project seemed to be engulfed in bad news.

The recession and other external financial factors that led to the collapse of credit markets have all but derailed City Centers, which more than doubled its budget of $4 billion from the $3 billion initially announced.

The project came hours after filing for bankruptcy in late March, which would have halted construction and put 8,500 construction workers’ jobs on hold. With little time, MGM Mirage was granted permission to make a $200 million equity payment to maintain project funding.

The collapse of the high-rise condominium market has led MGM Mirage to cut the price of 2,400 residential apartments at City Center by 30% to boost sales.

Meanwhile, the tragic deaths of six construction workers from February 2007 to May 2008 overshadowed the City Center’s promise. 경마사이트

Construction union members quit the company for a day in June 2008 after the death of the last construction worker to protest safety concerns. City Center safety issues were discussed as part of congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., in June and October 2008.

But Union Gaming Group principal Bill Lerner, who advised MGM Mirage on corporate financial issues earlier this year, believes the public will look beyond negative news as the city centre opens.

“It’s not about scaling back the death toll or financial problems, but consumers returning to Las Vegas will hear about the $8.5 billion that is incredible from a design standpoint,” Lerner said.

To MGM Mirage officials, the city center sees Las Vegas as a paradigm shift in how the world sees it. They hope that the unveiling of Vdara and the opening of the Crystal Retail Center and Mandarin Oriental Hotel will begin to change public perception of the project. Aria, the project’s main hotel and the only casino component, will open on Dec. 16.

“We believe in our hearts that Las Vegas is evolving into a metropolitan community,” MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said. “The City Center takes us to another level.”

The project is a mix of hotels and high-rise residential buildings designed by world-famous architects and surrounded by luxury retail shops and dining. The City Center displays $40 million worth of public art created by some of the most respected artists in the world. The project is also certified six gold medals for environmental and sustainability.

Michael Green, a history professor at the University of Southern Nevada and a longtime observer of the gaming industry, said the city center would have a vastly different community image had the economy not stagnated.

Instead, Green believes it could be as long as a decade before any company challenges a Las Vegas project the size of a city center.

“Honestly, everything that has happened in Las Vegas over the years has been a leap of faith,” Green said. “City centers are no different. You can’t find comparisons to anything else done in the city centers and Las Vegas. MGM Mirage is probably the only company that has done this.”

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