It wasn't so long ago that a Las Vegas implosion was a sign of progress and prosperity. Not-so-old buildings were brought down to make way for bigger, better ones. More jobs and increased tourism resulted. Another implosion inevitably would follow. Now the Strip is in line for its first building implosion in years. But this one would symbolize something entirely different: going "a tower too far."
On Monday, MGM Resorts International submitted a plan to Clark County to level the Harmon Tower, the empty luxury hotel and condominium high-rise at the north end of CityCenter. An engineering firm reported last month that the Harmon Tower could collapse if a major earthquake struck Las Vegas, and county officials have demanded that the threat to public safety be addressed immediately.
The casino operator says the project, long plagued by construction and structural problems, can't be fixed.
Perini Building Co., the general contractor for CityCenter, disagrees, saying it can repair the structure. The company and MGM Resorts are tied up in litigation over allegations of construction defects. A District Court judge would have to approve the implosion of the Harmon Tower, a step Perini says would destroy evidence of design errors.
In this economy, MGM Resorts clearly has no interest in completing the tower. It wants to make it go away.
The Harmon was supposed to have 47 stories, but in 2008 inspectors found improperly placed steel reinforcement. MGM Resorts then revised their plans, eliminating 200 condominiums and 20 floors. But even that didn't make the tower viable. Those issues came on top of construction site deaths and OSHA violations at CityCenter.
If a judge decides to allow MGM Resorts to proceed with the implosion, no one would mourn the Harmon's demise. The Sands, the Desert Inn and the Stardust created fond memories for generations before they were destroyed. The Harmon never had a single guest.
Perhaps the implosion of the Harmon could be promoted as an offering to end the curse of this recession, just as Chicago Cubs fans obliterated the baseball that fan Steve Bartman famously deflected during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.
That got the Cubs their pennant, didn't it?