Panel endorses $1.4B Las Vegas Convention Center upgrade

Updated May 25, 2017 - 4:36 pm

Approval of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s $1.4 billion expansion and renovation project cleared a significant hurdle Thursday with an oversight panel’s unanimous endorsement of the project.

The Oversight Panel for Convention Facilities in Clark County — a seven-member board of resort industry construction and finance experts — took just 22 minutes to discuss and vote on the plan.

The panel has met monthly since January gathering detailed information about the scope, financing and construction strategy for the project, deemed essential by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to stay ahead rival convention cities trying to steal trade show business away.

The plan will next be reviewed by an LVCVA board committee on Thursday before final approval by the full 14-member LVCVA board on June 13.

The plan has been broken into two phases, the construction of a new 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall planned in the vicinity of the Convention Center’s Gold parking lot at Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive and Diamond parking lot, the former site of the Riviera.

Construction on that phase, expected to cost $860 million or $597 per square foot, is targeted to begin in mid-2018 and completed by the end of 2020.

The next phase — refurbishing the existing North, Central and South halls — will cost an estimated $540 million and begin as soon as the new space can be occupied.

Construction managers plan a timeline of sequenced startups beginning in 2021 and concluding by the end of 2022. Crews will renovate the Central Hall in the first half of 2021, the North Hall in the second half of that year, the upper level of the South Hall in early 2022 and the bottom level of South Hall in the second half of the year.

The sequenced construction plan assures the LVCVA of always having at least 1.9 million square feet of space available for trade shows and conventions to avoid events leaving during the construction period. Once the expansion and renovation projects are completed by the end of 2022, the Convention Center campus will have about 2.5 million square feet, which would make it one of the largest convention venues in the nation.

The only snag in the LVCVA’s and Oversight Panel’s plans is determining the method of construction, which the panel discussed at its April meeting.

The LVCVA wants to use a construction-manager-at-risk project method, which would enable the LVCVA to appoint a construction manager that would be responsible for finishing the project by a specific deadline. Those types of contracts generally are more expensive than the more traditional design-build and design-bid-build methods, but they are more likely to to be completed by a set deadline — an important factor for the LVCVA, which wants the new exhibit hall ready for the 2021 CES.

Construction-manager-at-risk is enabled by legislation that sunsets on June 30. Senate Bill 246, which extends use of that method, has been heard by the State Senate, but awaits a hearing before the Assembly Government Affairs committee.

The LVCVA is awaiting the outcome of the fate of that bill and would use the design-build method of construction if the preferred method isn’t available.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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