We all know the base genetics of MGM Mirage's City Center development - a mixed use project across 76 acres on a prime piece of Las Vegas Strip real estate. Multiple hotels, gaming, restaurants, retail and condos all coming together in an effort to master plan an miniature city.
The construction cranes are crawling over the property and the 4,000 room hotel/casino that will anchor site is up beyond the 11th floor. A live Web cam of the construction is on the official Web site. Also, MGM MIRAGE provided me with some photos and renderings of the project. Some may be familiar and others new.
I was able to tour the sales pavilion that has been a key tool in allowing MGM Mirage to almost completely sell out one of their condo developments (The Residences at Mandarin Oriental). Along with the tour some questions were answered about some of the other components of the project.
Keep reading after the jump for some more thoughts on what I saw.
City Center is often described with these soaring descriptions of a life altering experience - 'Las Vegas will never be the same' is a constant refrain. These kinds of statements immediately peg my 'skeptic-o-meter' and generally I have a harder time buying in when I hear that kind of stuff. Despite coming in with these high expectations I can honestly say that I left the pavilion with a higher opinion of City Center than when I arrived. I'm going to try to explain why.
Now, the vast majority of the early literature and information on the project has focused around the condos. No big surprise - they have to sell these things and people want to see what they will look like. The various towers feature different styles, price points and amenities. I'm not going to go into too much detail on the various condo offerings but here's the nickel tour - please note that I walked through the model units so I do have a good idea what the various condos look like inside.
* Residences at Mandarin Oriental (MGM Rendering) - The most expensive of the bunch and practically sold out, the Mandarin units were very popular with top MGM Mirage managers including chairman Terry Lanni. These units are the top half of the Mandarin tower (the hotel is underneath them and the sky-lobby that is visible in the renderings). These are decked out with the nicest of everything and the quality of the finishes was head and shoulders above the other units. The facilities are owned by MGM Mirage and operated by Mandarin Oriental.
* Vdara (Rendering, Rendering 2, Pool Rendering, Exterior Rendering, Living Room, Bedroom, Living Room, Studio Kitchen) - A new brand that will be owned and operated by MGM Mirage, Vdara is a condo-hotel with about 1,500 units and all the amenities of a mega-resort. Vdara is being built adjacent to Bellagio's Spa Tower.
* The Harmon (Veer and Harmon Rendering) - The Harmon Hotel and Residences is the hipper, less exclusive (and less expensive) take on a hotel+condo tower (with the Mandarin being the big brother). Owned by MGM Mirage, The Harmon will be operated by the Light Group, who run Light, Fix, Stack, Caramel, Jet and other ventures for MGM Mirage at properties like Bellagio and The Mirage. This tower is located on the northeastern corner of the development.
* Veer Towers (Veer Models, Veer and Harmon Rendering) - Veer features two, condo-only towers rising above the retail mall. The towers are designed to lean, hence the name. Owned and operated by MGM Mirage, each tower will feature about 350 units. This development features a more modern and sleek sense of interior design.
Daniel Libeskind's 'retail and entertainment district' sits between The Harmon and Mandarin, encapsulates Veer and directs people back towards the City Center casino hotel. That alone makes this a key part of the development but from the small sliver I saw, it looks like it will be an interesting attraction by itself. Generally, shopping malls don't do that much to excite me. Even some semi-interesting ideas like the Forum Shops (in their day) are still just a set of stores.
Now, the drawings for the mall have been few and far between - the official materials only include the outside bits - a set of jagged corners and geometric shapes.
In the materials I got a look at were several drawings from inside the retail area - large sweeping open spaces that intrigued me. Multiple levels all visible from a grand common area. Water moving between levels. It looked neat and this was a rough drawing.
Who knows what the mean by throwing the term 'entertainment' in there. The lone mime making the kids laugh and the drunks stare? Hopefully something better than cheesy talking statues in oversized fountains.
The 4,000 room hotel-casino that will anchor City Center (currently called the 'City Center Hotel' - I'm assuming they're going to change this) is the bit that interests me the most. It's also the bit for which we have the least info it seems.
We do know it is a 61-story building, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The lobby is described as a three story atrium - reminiscent of some great Manhattan hotels of the last century. The design features a lot of natural light, glass, steel and other materials that lend a somewhat modern feel. The word on the street is that several significant design details have yet to be revealed. Personally, I am entranced by the the floor-plan for the tower - it's a welcome departure from the Y-Wing structure so common on the Strip.
They have committed to a level of quality and service that is comparable to Bellagio so I assume that means they are hoping for a five star/five diamond setup in a best case scenario.
I'm hoping they hit their high quality bar, though a 4,000 room hotel is a challenge to put together even for a mediocre level of service. Bellagio seems to do okay in this department so I have hope.
Anyone that can shed additional light on the hotel or has information to share, named or anonymously - I'd love to hear from you.
* WET Design - The builders of the 'Fountains of Bellagio' have hinted at a major new installation at City Center, though this one is principally indoors. That's pretty much it as far as info at this point.
* Cirque du Soleil - We know they will have an Elvis based show at City Center - the theater is directly adjacent to the main hotel building - a stumpy little stacked design.
That's it for now. We'll be checking in with project updates on a regular basis, along with any construction updates from mike_ch or others. If anyone has any additional info to share, let 'er rip. Also, I have a couple of MGM Mirage contacts that I can fire off questions to if we need some follow-up.