Hail CityCenter

The timing and tenor of this week’s openings at CityCenter are nearly perfect.

Sure, the Las Vegas economy needs a shot in the arm, and new Strip megaresorts have been providing such boosters for the better part of two decades.

But what makes Tuesday’s debut of the nongaming Vdara hotel, Thursday’s opening of the Crystals dining, retail and entertainment center, and Saturday’s unveiling of the nongaming Mandarin Oriental so satisfying is the collective resilience it took to get them done. Everyone from financiers and MGM Mirage executives to carpenters and ironworkers had to persevere through upheaval and uncertainty to create the valley’s latest landmark.

As with the larger Las Vegas tourism industry, there were moments over the past few years when it seemed the worst possible outcomes might be realized.

Credit problems nearly led to bankruptcy. The housing collapse crushed the luxury condominium market. Six CityCenter construction workers died on the job in a little over a year’s time. And the persistent recession created doubts about the sustainability of an $8.5 billion resort complex, the largest private-sector construction project in U.S. history.

But everyone associated with the vision of CityCenter came through.

What now stands on the Strip is a once-unimaginable advancement in the Las Vegas brand, in style, sophistication and service.

Is this the bellwether of a recovery in Las Vegas? It’s cause for hope, certainly, that CityCenter will draw millions of visitors who otherwise wouldn’t plan to come to Las Vegas anytime soon — and that those visitors will spend their hard-earned dollars on the city’s newest amenities.

But much work remains before those in the hospitality industry can stop looking over their shoulders. Monday’s announcement that Binion’s would close its hotel and lay off about 100 workers was further proof we’re not out of the woods — and won’t be for quite some time.

Everyone in Las Vegas will have to grind it out and keep believing that better days lie ahead, that anything is possible. Let CityCenter be our inspiration, at least for now.

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