Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Exclusive: CityCenter Pix

Yesterday, after I visited the uber-posh $30 million Project CityCenter sales office to get a better understanding of just what MGM Mirage is doing with its 76 acres between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio, I went to the top of the Bellagio's employee parking lot because I'd been told it's the best perch to shoot some pix of the project in progress. As you can see to your here, I'd heard right.

What you see at top left (may need to click to expand for detail) is that the building sprouting to the left is Vdara Condo Hotel, a 50-story curved building with 1,543 units ranging from 500 to 1850 square feet, and to the right in that shot is the 4,000-room CityCenter Casino-Resort, although they keep toying with the name of the place. The other pix here show each project separately, Vdara on the right and the hotel on the left.

In addition to those buildings, CityCenter also will include a pair of yellow twin condo towers called Veer, the aqua oval-shaped The Harmon Hotel & Residences and a Mandarin Oriental with a couple hundred condo units built in as well. A shot of the entire model is to the right, as it will be seen from the Strip, with the Vdara in the back to the right and the construction photos taken from behind that. All of this is to be completed by 2009.

While at the sales center, I happened to observe a salesman giving a pitch to what I think was a group of real estate agents. He made a really interesting point I'd never thought of, namely that the project costs $7 billion and one reason why they have all this condo inventory is because they can raise about $3 billion that way. What's so interesting about that is the sea change it represents; Vegas casino interests became public companies in the 1980s and 1990s in part to get financing for these mega-resorts. Now even that capital isn't enough; everyone's got to have condos, too, to offset the price, from Trump to Echelon to CityCenter to the Palms.

The sales guy also revealed some interesting tidbits about what Wet Design, creators of the Bellagio Fountains, are planning for "water features" at CityCenter Wassitcallt. Apparently, and he was vague mainly because he found it difficult to describe, there will be some sort of eye-popping show in the 500,000-square-foot mall of the hotel that involves mammoth ice sculptures rising from the ground, doing some sort of performance and then receding to re-freeze. Or something like that.

The sales center, which anyone can visit, has a little bar where soft drinks and snacks are free. And there are large models of each of the condo buildings (except The Harmon, which isn't done apparently) as well as models of what the rooms will look like. So to your right you'll see what the mock-up living room (complete with a fake Strip view) of the Vdara studio apartments (starting at $500,000) would look like. And to your left is what the bathrooms of the Mandarin Oriental units (which are sold out despite costing $1.5 million to $10 million) will look like. I liked the faucet spouts the most.

So today I'm sharing the serious pix. Tomorrow, I have some pretty funny ones, so come on back.


Joey in Joisey said...

Once again, you rock, Steve. Very cool. Talk about above and beyond.

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