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September 2, 2014

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Judge puts hold on razing flawed Harmon tower

Image

Steve Marcus

An exterior view of the Harmon Hotel tower, center, in CityCenter as seen from the Cosmopolitan on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Updated Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 | 5 p.m.

The Harmon - Oct. 2011

The Harmon at CityCenter in Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. Launch slideshow »

The hulking, empty Harmon Hotel tower at CityCenter will stay up for now.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez issued an order on Friday requiring the casino owners to postpone demolishing the flawed tower.

CityCenter owners have been waiting to demolish the half-built hotel tower on a prime piece of Strip real estate since 2008, when inspectors found structural flaws that doomed the building.

But the general contractor that built the Harmon has argued that the building needs to stay up to serve as evidence in an eventual lawsuit.

On Friday, Gonzalez ruled that building should stay up so that more tests can be done.

CityCenter is operated and half-owned by MGM Resorts International.

Insurer FM Global, which wrote the insurance policy covering the Harmon's construction and is investigating CityCenter's $393.8 million claim for a total loss, first asked Gonzalez issue the order last fall.

The Harmon was supposed to be a 48-story component of the glittery $8.5 billion CityCenter project that opened in December 2009. But inspectors found flaws in the steel reinforcements used in the concrete structure, and tower construction was frozen at 26 stories.

CityCenter attorneys have argued that the unsound building is a safety hazard, and should be taken down as soon as possible. They say the tower could collapse in a strong earthquake — one that has a 50 percent chance of happening in the next 30 years.

Attorneys for builder Tutor Perini Building Co. argue that if CityCenter was so concerned about safety, it would have done more to earthquake-proof the empty building.

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