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Skyvue’s financial troubles mount

Skyvue, the 500-foot Ferris wheel under construction on the south end of the Strip, has run into more financial problems.

MMC Inc., the contractor that has been building the foundations, filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court late Monday to collect on $1.1 million in unpaid bills by foreclosing on the project.

All told, eight companies that have worked on Skyvue have filed liens for their work, including general contractor Ledcor Construction Inc. for $3.3 million, according to county records.

Skyvue developer Howard Bulloch said through a spokeswoman that his company is close to obtaining another loan from Shotgun Creek Investments that would cover all of the accrued debt as early as today. The size of the loan was not disclosed.

Shotgun Creek, headed by prominent Seattle businessman Wayne Perry, a part-owner of the Seattle Mariners, injected at least $9.5 million into Skyvue last year through different transactions, helping to pay off a mortgage when the project faced foreclosure in February.

J. Fraser Smith, a principal of Mendenhall Smith Structural Engineers, said his firm has provided several documents as part of the loan process.

“It’s my understanding that it is close to happening,” Smith said.

But he said his firm filed a lien for $763,000 because it was facing a legal deadline to establish the claim or lose it. He waited until then, he said, after originally hearing that the Shotgun Creek loan would go ahead by the end of December. William Wray, the attorney for MMC, declined to comment on a possible settlement of the case.

Bulloch said the only detail holding up the refinancing is original paperwork required from an out-of-town vendor by a title company.

All of the liens add up to $5.4 million, but it is unclear how much of that is overlapping. The MMC lawsuit requests repayment from both Skyvue and Ledcor.

Caesars Entertainment, meanwhile, has moved ahead with a competing giant wheel that will anchor its $550 million Project Linq entertainment and retail center behind the Quad resort, formerly the Imperial Palace.

Little visible work has happened for six months at the $300 million Skyvue, which would feature a two-story retail and dining building at its base.

Skyvue’s construction crane was dismantled in September, but the company said at the time that another one would replace it in mid-October. There is still no crane on the site across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay resort, where foundation work and a pair of unfinished 247-foot pillars designed to hold up the wheel remain.

According to the Skyvue statement, a new crane will be put in place by midyear after wheel components from manufacturers arrive and are assembled on the site.

One of the critical parts, a 26,400-pound bearing that makes the wheel go round, was displayed during a Skyvue launch ceremony in May 2011. At the time, Bulloch said his acquisition of the bearing, left over from a wheel in Beijing that was never built, gave his project a substantial head start against the rival Project Linq.

The bearing is now back in Germany with the manufacturer, Schaeffler, “to be recalibrated and prepared for assembly with the axle,” Skyvue said.

At the time the bearing was displayed at the site, Bulloch said the wheel would be in operation in late 2012. There is no current listing of a new target date.

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

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