Construction activity in Nevada is poised to accelerate after three design-team finalists made presentations to Las Vegas Convention Center stakeholders last week, vying to garner the $1.4-billion expansion-and-renovation contract and putting construction start on track for early 2018.

The presenting design finalists were RV Architecture-Friedmutter Group, TVS Design-Design Las Vegas and Populous-Klai Juba Wald-LGA-ZimmerRay. Final selection is expected on Nov. 15.

The three design teams had six weeks to work on presentations with parameters and needs determined by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and its construction manager, Cordell Corp.

The design presentation was for phase two, which includes construction of 1.4 million sq ft of new structure, with 600,000 sq ft as leasable space. Construction is expected to be complete by 2021.

Phase one—the purchase and demolition of the former Riviera Hotel and Casino—was completed in 2016. Terry Jicinsky, senior vice president of operations with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, says phase one cost about $187 million and cleared the site, leaving only utility connections at street level. It will be the primary building site for phase two.

Expected to begin in 2021, phase three will include renovations to most of the current facility and some new construction. Jicinsky notes that, when complete in 2023, current plans will result in a convention center of about 5.2 million sq ft.

Of the 50 states, Nevada construction employment growth was among the highest over the past year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is likely the convention- center project will create the 14,000 construction jobs estimated, says Sean Stewart, CEO of the Nevada Contractors Association CEO.

Stewart says several firms are preparing to enter the general-contractor selection phase later in November.