Clark County faulted on Harmon Tower

CityCenter general contractor Perini Building Co. says Clark County officials allowed MGM Resorts International to "evade its responsibilities relating to the design defects" at the troubled Harmon Tower.

In a letter sent Friday to Clark County Building Department Director Ron Lynn that was copied to all seven county commissioners, Perini President Craig Shaw said it does not believe MGM Resorts should be allowed to demolish the unfinished building.

Shaw reiterated that the company, along with structural engineer John A. Martin & Associates, could repair and make the Harmon code compliant.

"These repairs can be designed, permitted and completed in a far shorter period of time than MGM claims is needed just to evaluate the building," Shaw wrote.

In addition, Perini noted that building department Principal Engineer Scott Telford asked MGM Resorts in February to correct "major deficiencies" at the Harmon. In an email to other building officials on Feb. 9, Telford advised that if the repairs weren't completed, the county "should revoke all (temporary certificates of occupancy) associated with the Harmon podium."

Shaw said the building department "has inexplicably done nothing" to require MGM Resorts to make any repairs spelled in a report on the tower completed by structural engineering firm Walter P. Moore, which studied it for the county.

Officials from Clark County on Monday declined comment on the Perini letter.

MGM Resorts told the county on Aug. 15 that the empty Harmon, which was to have been a luxury hotel and condominium tower anchoring the north end of the $8.5 billion CityCenter development, is structurally unsound, cannot be fixed, and must be imploded.

MGM Resorts said the building is a potential hazard that could collapse in a major earthquake.

The building's future is tied up in litigation. The Harmon is the subject of a construction defect lawsuit between CityCenter developer and operator MGM Resorts and Perini. The case is currently on hold while the Nevada Supreme Court decides several technical issues.

Even if the county signs off on the implosion, a district judge would have to agree to let the demolition go forward.

Shaw disputed MGM Resorts ' claims the building has uncorrectable structural issues. He said the Harmon's "substantial design defects" could be fixed at a nominal cost in comparison to the expense of implosion.

"Demolition of the Harmon would perpetrate a $300 million-plus waste, create a public blight and a far greater risk to public safety than the implementation of the straightforward repair Perini is proposing," Shaw said.

Shaw, who first offered to have Perini repair the Harmon in July, said the company and its structural engineer have already developed preliminary plans to answer any deficiencies, and could provide details within three months.

Perini also asked Clark County to be included in an upcoming meeting between building department officials, MGM Resorts executives, and a representative of the structural engineering firm that studied the building.

An assistant to Shaw said he wouldn't comment in light of the pending lawsuit.

MGM Resorts declined comment on the Perini letter.

Construction on the 27-story tower, which was originally planned for 47 floors, was halted in 2009 after building inspectors found it did not match plans submitted to the county. The construction issues involved improperly placed steel reinforcing bar, or rebar.

CityCenter opened in December 2009, but the Harmon was never finished and its blue-glass facade is essentially used as a billboard by CityCenter.