Barely a week after winning permission to implode CityCenter's unfinished Harmon Hotel, MGM Resorts International may have reason to keep it for the near term.
Concluding nearly a week of technical and sometimes tedious testimony, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled Friday that CityCenter, operated and half-owned by MGM Resorts, could not use extrapolation when requesting damages at a possible trial. Extrapolation is a statistical technique that uses samples to predict how pervasive defects are throughout a building, much as pollsters predict public opinion based on a representative sample of people.
As a result, CityCenter attorney Steve Morris raised the possibility that MGM Resorts engineers might re-enter the Harmon, a glass-covered shell for the past four years, to conduct more destructive testing. That involves knocking off finished concrete to see any steel reinforcement bars inside.
To date, MGM Resorts has tested 397 structural elements in the never-finished 26-story building, just over one-fourth of the total. It reports finding defects in more than 90 percent of the pieces, such as shear walls and elevator lobby slabs. Gary Hart, an engineer working for MGM Resorts, estimates that repairs would cost $200 million and take nearly a year longer than implosion and reconstruction. For that reason, MGM Resorts still wants to raze the Harmon.
However, general contractor Perini Building Co., now called Tutor Perini Building Corp., claims MGM Resorts skewed test results to highlight defects. Perini experts estimate fixing the Harmon would cost only $20 million.
Gonzalez found that the MGM Resorts test sites were not been picked at random through what is known as a blind draw. This means that MGM Resorts would have to show a jury actual evidence of defects rather than estimates, leading to a potential new round of testing. However, Gonzalez left open the possibility that a jury could hear testimony based on "engineering judgment and inferences."
Morris also talked about an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, just as Perini attorney George Ogilvie III did last week after losing the battle on implosion.
A jury trial, now scheduled for the end of June , would assess blame for the Harmon's problems. Perini said it has about $230 million in unpaid bills for its work, while MGM Resorts claims the entire $275 million it spent on the hotel has been wasted.