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
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like