Vegas Construction Woes

The Las Vegas construction boom has hit a brick wall. These days, there’s omnipresent worry in a town that isn’t used to the jitters. After 20 years of boom times, Sin City casino executives didn’t gamble on a softening economy evaporating business or tightening financial markets making it difficult to get the cash needed to build resorts.

Unfortunately, the expansion side of the business has gone bust. Several notable projects have been canceled, others are getting pushed back, and some are finding they’re in the need to scramble for dollars if they plan to finish uncompleted projects.

Most notably, Boyd Gaming last week delayed its $4.8 billion Echelon for at least nine months. It was a surprise blow to a company that has been in a transformative stage from locals market player to Las Vegas Strip contender.

More telling are the problems taking places further down The Strip. Take the Cosmopolitan. Located on a sliver of land next to Bellagio, this hotel has been in foreclosure proceedings because its management defaulted on a $760 million construction loan. After a mad scramble to see who is going to take it on, it looks as if Hyatt has captured the rights. But the project has been seriously delayed.

MGM-MIRAGE’s CityCenter is also having its fair share of trouble. The mega project was originally estimated to cost $7.5 billion, but reports have pegged the final cost will be between $9 and $10 billion. Though the company has gotten funding from Dubai World— it’s now a 50-50 partner in the venture— some renovations at other of its hotels like Excalibur and Luxor have been delayed as cash is being funneled to CityCenter.

Other projects have been put on indefinite hold such as The Plaza, a $5 billion offshoot of the New York City icon. In the short term, there are still numerous resort openings. Encore, the latest venture from Steve Wynn, is set to open later this year, while the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas will open in 2009. Also opening will be the $1 billion M Resort, as will a $1.2 billion tower at Planet Hollywood and a $1 billion Caesars Palace expansion.


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