Bulloch’s big wheel long shot, and getting longer

At the May 2011 ceremonial groundbreaking for the giant SkyVue Ferris wheel, Las Vegas developer Howard Bulloch displayed a 26,000-pound bearing, which he called an essential piece for making it go ’round.

By buying this bearing from a Beijing project that had foundered, Bulloch told attending dignitaries that SkyVue had more than a year’s head start on anyone else — notably the High Roller in Caesar Entertainment Corp.’s Project Linq up the Strip — because the huge bearings take so long to custom-fabricate.

Industry analysts predicted that Las Vegas could support only one giant wheel, and the first to spin would be the sole survivor.

Fast forward to today. The High Roller is now a complete wheel a few months away from spinning tourists. The SkyVue site hasn’t seen any activity in more than a year.

SkyVue has evolved into yet another unfinished Las Vegas project, alternately described as a giant concrete slingshot, an upside-down bicycle fork or two matchsticks. SkyVue faltered even as several other projects secured the financing to restart.

Ever the underdog, Bulloch’s wheel appears to be an even longer shot now.

In January, SkyVue issued a statement through its former public relations firm that said all of the wheel parts would arrive in town “by May/June 2013 at which point a new crane will arrive as well for the final concrete pour and assembly of the wheel.”

None of this happened.

Much of the work was supposed to take place at the plant of Kingman, Ariz.-based Laron Industries. That company’s project manager, Ron Richards, did not return calls seeking comment.

There are neither equipment nor supplies now on the SkyVue construction site, across the Strip from Mandalay Bay. Some promotional wraps on the chain-link fence surrounding the property have become so ragged that they flap in the breeze. A lone security guard, watching over the otherwise empty office building that once housed the contractors, is the only person working there.

SkyVue did not return calls for comment. Seattle businessman Wayne Perry, who has kept the project alive through loans and equity investments estimated at $64 million, could not be reached for comment.

Unlike SkyVue, Caesars Entertainment landed financing for its wheel before construction started. The gaming giant’s retail and entertainment district next to the Flamingo is scheduled to open in February; the High Roller is to start carrying riders in its gondolas around midyear.

On Twitter, SkyVue wrote in June, “Please be patient, news to come,” in answer to someone who compared the project to the unfinished hulk of the Fontainebleau on the north Strip.

This followed a message two months earlier: “Looks like we still have something to prove. (Don’t) worry exciting news is coming.”

Also in June, one follower complained that the webcam focused on the site had gone off. “Just some minor technical difficulties. Back up soon!” SkyVue replied.

But the camera is still off.

County records show no new fresh financing for SkyVue since March, when Perry, through affiliates of his Shotgun Creek Investments LLC, injected a $4 million loan. This came after a $5 million loan in January, used to pay off contractors who had slapped liens on the property because of unpaid bills. One contractor filed a collection lawsuit in District Court.

Shotgun Creek is also ensnared in federal court litigation by businessman Tom Gonzalez, who was promised a $10 million payment as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan on the property a decade ago. Gonzalez was supposed receive the money after a sale of the property.

Shotgun Creek, a year-ago deposition by Perry states, has invested $15 million for a 6 percent interest in the project. According to the complaint Gonzalez filed in federal court against Shotgun Creek, this was enough to trigger the $10 million payment, called a transfer fee.

Shotgun Creek has moved for a verdict in its favor without a trial. It contends that as an outsider it has no obligation to pay Gonzalez.

Another lawsuit brought in 2011 by Gonzalez against Bulloch-related entities has gone against him to date, with part of it now in front of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Perry, a part owner of baseball’s Seattle Mariners, made much of his fortune after AT&T paid $15.3 billion for McCaw Cellular Communications in the 1990s. Perry was one of McCaw’s top executives.

In his deposition, Perry said he met Bulloch about five years ago, when both served on the Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board. Perry is still the group’s voluntary national president, and each of his four sons became Eagle Scouts.

In 2011, Perry said he asked Bulloch about buying a slice of SkyVue.

“I began to understand the scope and nature of the project, and I thought it would be an attractive investment,” he said.

Because of his personal connection with Bulloch, Perry wrote the check on a handshake deal.

“(That was) probably not the first time I’ve made investments without documents but probably — definitely the first time I’ve ever made a $10 million investment without a document,” he said.

In court papers, Gonzalez attorney J. Randall Jones alleged the investment was kept off the books to avoid triggering the payment to Gonzalez. But Perry testified that he did not know then about the circumstances that would force payment of the transfer fee.

At several junctures, Perry has bailed SkyVue out of trouble, notably in January and earlier to refinance a previous loan that had come due.

Besides the wheel, SkyVue’s $300 million master plan included a two-story retail and dining building at its base plus a giant light-emitting-diode hub on the 500-foot tall wheel to generate advertising revenue. The design called for the wheel’s axle to rest on the two concrete pillars, which now sit surrounded by scaffolding and temporary stairs and stand 247 feet tall.

SkyVue once talked about opening on New Year’s Eve. But Bulloch partner David Gaffen told The Associated Press in September that the new opening date would be in mid-2015.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or at 702-387-5290.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like