The Housing Chronicles Blog: Massive CityCenter Las Vegas complex to open next week

Friday, December 11, 2009

Massive CityCenter Las Vegas complex to open next week

Having covered Las Vegas as a consultant (and for a homebuilder) over the last 15 years, I've gotten to know the city -- and The Strip -- pretty well, and made it a point to visit and stay at various resorts whenever I visited.

One thing that always struck me as curious was the unbridled optimism behind the massive projects which continuously seemed to spring up, as if the "If you build it, they will come" mantra could just live on forever even as growth in visitor traffic began to slow. Back in late 2006, when a friend had considered buying a high-rise condo in Vegas, I begged him not to, as I could see the crash that was about to come in the not-too-distant future.

Now, as Vegas remains mired in one of the weakest economic environments over the last century, the $8.5 billion CityCenter project -- the largest private development ever built -- is set to open. In their defense, of course, these projects are planned far in advance of economic swings, so it's not like they planned to open at a time of 10% national unemployment, a more guarded consumer spending less on travel on airlines cutting back on flights. But they did nonetheless.

With that said, I can't wait to see this project in person, but until you can they've developed a very expensive Web site that will help you tour the entire 67 acres, with links to the Web sites for each individual hotel, condo project and mall property. What will be most interesting it to see how the non-gaming hotels -- of which there are three -- will fare, given that gambling revenues remain an important way to hotel companies to make cash. Will the receipts from hotel room, dining and spa services and retail stores be enough to make this a go in the long run? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne summarizes his findings after a personal tour.

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