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Drew Las Vegas on hold, other construction continues amid virus’ spread

With the new coronavirus upending daily life in Las Vegas, at least one major real estate project has shelved construction work over the outbreak, and at least one other says it plans to keep building.

Drew Las Vegas owner Steve Witkoff’s namesake firm said in a statement Tuesday evening it has “paused construction crews from coming onsite” at the north Strip hotel-casino and asked corporate employees to work from home.

“The landscape is constantly changing, and we will continue to work closely with all involved to ensure a swiftly recommencement of the work when it’s appropriate to do so,” Witkoff’s firm said.

Meanwhile, Resorts World Las Vegas president Scott Sibella said in a statement Tuesday night that the project’s developers “do have plans to continue construction.”

They also are working with the lead contractor “to ensure appropriate measures, including social distancing and good hygiene practices, are being taken to protect the health and safety of our workers while they remain on site,” he said.

Employees who are in “closer quarters,” such as administrative offices, and can work remotely must now work from home, Sibella said.

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday night told “nonessential” businesses statewide to close by noon Wednesday, or find ways to service customers through such means as delivery or curbside pickup, to help contain the spread of the virus. He did not mention construction in his prepared remarks, and further guidance issued Wednesday did not either.

However, Sisolak’s press office said Wednesday afternoon that the Nevada Department of Business and Industry “will be posting guidance to the construction, mining, and manufacturing industries on strong protocols for social distancing on job sites and at facilities.”

Las Vegas has billions of dollars’ worth of real estate projects underway. It was unclear Wednesday whether developers of other major ventures plan to keep building.

Representatives of MSG Sphere at The Venetian did not respond to requests for comment. Derek Stevens, developer of the Circa hotel-casino, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday, and neither did representatives of the Raiders, who are developing the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium slated to open this year.

Around 1 p.m. Wednesday, crews could be seen working all around the stadium, carrying out signage work and a bevy of other tasks.

Lori Nelson-Kraft, spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which is overhauling the convention center with an expansion and renovation, said Sisolak “is allowing existing construction projects to continue.” The convention authority is awaiting guidance from the business and industry department, she added.

She also said the LVCVA does not have “any indications yet” that the supply of materials for the convention center project are being affected by the fallout from the outbreak.

Witkoff bought the partially built Fontainebleau tower in 2017 for $600 million and later unveiled its new name. He has said he expects to finish the 67-story resort in 2022.

Resorts World, a 3,500-room project by Malaysia’s Genting Group, was scheduled to open in 2021 as of last fall. MSG Sphere, an entertainment venue, also is slated to debut in 2021, and the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion is expected to finish by the end of 2022.

The 777-room Circa, downtown’s first newly built resort in decades, is scheduled to open in December.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. MSG Sphere is a project by The Madison Square Garden Co. and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Richard N. Velotta and Mick Akers contributed to this report.

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