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Joan Whitely

Clark County issues notices about work CityCenter

13 February 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A flurry of Clark County notices, which document either problematic construction work or a failure to check work, has descended on the CityCenter project on the Strip.

The flurry didn't start until this month -- after the county in late January had ordered its own monitors to watch more closely the work of third-party private inspectors at the mammoth construction site, where numerous high-rise towers are going up.

"We don't issue the notices. We are happy to receive them," MGM-Mirage spokesman Gordon Absher said Thursday. "This is the process working the way it's supposed to. If something is not built exactly to the plans, we want to fix it."

Dan Kulin, a county spokesman, declined to characterize the February notices as significant in quantity.

According to Absher, some of the notices reflect only that the project's rapid construction pace sometimes gets out of sync with the pace at which essential paperwork is logged.

"Many of these things are very minor," he said. "And some are as simple as the engineering review process catching up with what's happening at the site."

He explained that in some cases a piece of work might be tagged as nonconforming to the current plans. However, nothing needs to be rebuilt to meet county standards.

Instead, the "red flag" is removed when revised drawings -- to which the built work does conform -- finally emerge from the county's official review process.

Several of CityCenter's February notices show that Converse Consultants, a third-party inspection company, failed to do a required "quality assurance" check.

The Harmon tower, for example, did not undergo required inspections of window assemblies and attachment systems on floors five through 25, according to notices of violation that are dated Feb. 5. Converse has the inspection contract.

The Harmon, which occupies prime Strip frontage, has already suffered a blow to its aesthetics. Because of a structural problem that Converse had failed to detect, the Harmon has been shortened in mid-construction from 49 stories to 28.

MGM-Mirage announced in January that it would not build almost half of the building's envisioned height, for two reasons: to reduce the expense of fixing the structural problem by reducing the weight of the building; and to reduce the economic pressure to sell condo units, by deleting the Harmon's condominium floors.

A revision of the Harmon by its noted architect, David Foster, has not been unveiled.

At CityCenter's Aria Resort tower, designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, county inspectors also found that systems for attaching exterior surfacing and window assemblies to the building did not receive third-party inspections, according to notices of violation dated Feb. 5. Converse Consultants has that inspection contract, too.

Absher cautioned against a misread of the flurry of notices. On Feb. 2, the county had ordered CityCenter executive Bill Ham to submit a plan for "verification testing" at all project sites where Converse Consultants is hired to do quality assurance.

The fact that existing work is being checked "does not mean there's a problem," Absher said.

Verification testing means "we're simply there to prove there's not a problem."

Clark County issues notices about work CityCenter is republished from