Court Drama Over Harmon Hotel Defects to Continue into 2014
Litigation over CityCenter’s half-built, never-opened Harmon Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip will stretch into 2014 as result of Clark County District Eight Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez’s recent order reversing prior demolition approval. The case to resolve defects with the $275-million, oval-shaped glass tower had been set for June 2013.
CityCenter co-owner and manager MGM Resorts International wants to conduct more testing for its construction defects case against Sylmar, Calif.-based general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp. At the same time, Tutor Perini is countersuing for $191 million in unpaid bills related to the overall $8.5-billion, 18-million-sq-ft CityCenter complex, which opened in Dec. 2009.
Tutor Perini, which blames Harmon’s problems on a faulty design, claims the owner wants to destroy evidence prior to trial and thereby prejudice the jury. London-based Foster+Partners was the design architect, with New York-based AAI Architects Inc. as architect-of-record and the Las Vegas office of Halcrow Yolles as structural engineer.
In court filings, MGM claims the building is structurally unsound due to shoddy construction, and believes demolition is the surest way to avoid potential collapse. The demolition is expected to cost $30 million. Tutor Perini has publically rebuffed those claims and calls them a stall tactic to avoid contractor payment; the firm has repeatedly offered to perform a proposed $20-million, eight-week building fix designed by John A. Martin & Associates, Los Angeles. However, diminished visitor demand has left CityCenter with little need for Harmon’s 400 additional hotel rooms.
Gonzalez previously ruled in July that the 397 structural building test sites done by MGM consulting engineer Gary Hart of Weidlinger Associates were not selected randomly, thereby negating any data extrapolation to demonstrate building-wide defects. MGM appealed the ruling to the Nevada State Supreme Court on Oct. 25; it’s unknown how long a decision could take since Tutor Perini will have an opportunity to contest the outcome. MGM is additionally expected to re-seek an order for building demolition. Meanwhile, Gonzalez has since set a June 24, 2013 civil trial date on payment issues followed by a separate trial starting Jan. 6, 2014, for defect claims.