Quake Could Topple Vegas Hotel

A strong earthquake would likely topple the Harmon boutique hotel tower under construction by MGM Resorts International at CityCenter on Las Vegas Strip, a structural engineer warned the company.

The report by Weidlinger Associates says it would take at least one year to figure out what kind of repairs would be required to save the tower. And MGM Resorts is waiting to hear from Clark County to figure out what to do next.

“In a code-level earthquake, using either the permitted or current code specified loads, it is likely that the critical structural members in the tower will fail and become incapable of supporting gravity loads, leading to a partial or complete collapse of the tower,” said Chukwuma Ekwueme, an associated principal of Weidlinger.

MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Absher said the company hired the consultants to analyze the building, which sits next to the Crystals shopping center and across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Cosmopolitan resort, in response to a request from county officials to inspect the building further.

MGM Resorts has legally tangled with builder Tutor Perini Corp. over the project since last year. Absher said the county’s request is separate from the litigation.

Clark County development services official Ronald Lynn said in an April letter to MGM Resorts that it was important to analyze the building’s strength further to minimize safety risks on the Strip and in adjacent buildings.

“These deficiencies, in their current state, make the building uninhabitable,” Lynn wrote.

The Harmon is part of the $8.5 billion CityCenter project that opened at the end of 2009. It is jointly owned by MGM Resorts and Dubai World.