Skip

CityCenter, Las Vegas
November 30, 2009 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Tomorrow in Las Vegas, a mixed hotel/condominium called Vdara will open for business on the spot once occupied by the unlamented Boardwalk Hotel and Casino. It is the first stage of the CityCenter complex, the largest privately financed development in the United States, which has already cost $8.5 billion and six lives. Even before the recent debt-restructuring woes of 50% stakeholder Dubai World, there was concern over CityCenter's impact on the struggling local economy. (previously)

Vdara's opening is sure to be the top story on the Five Hundy by Midnight podcast - an affectionate but candid weekly review of Sin City news hosted by Tim and Michele Dressen.
posted by Joe Beese (54 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's hoping that monstrosity is a ghost town from the get go and the shells of the buildings are reused for high rise farming.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 AM on November 30, 2009


Bleh. I live here in Las Vegas. The morning local radio show on NPR is talking about how once City Center opens, the actual number of jobs that it creates will not be as many as the number of construction jobs that will end. Color me unsurprised. I'm also thinking that the whole Dubai World fiasco is going to cause City Center to turn into a giant sucking sound on the strip. I almost hope that happens.
posted by daq at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2009


Burhanistan, oh don't I so wish that would happen... maybe this place would stop smelling so bad.
posted by daq at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2009


Amazing, thanks! No discussion of the Los Vegas economy would be complete without a link to Current TV's episode of "Vanguard" on the issue, Lost Vegas.
posted by ErikaB at 9:34 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man the archeologists of the far future are gonna have some seriously confused ideas about the Last Vegas Site, maybe thinking it was another Amarna
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on November 30, 2009


Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:49 AM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


the actual number of jobs that it creates will not be as many as the number of construction jobs that will end.

Yeah, once the City Center job is done, my dad's company is closing down their Vegas factory entirely.
posted by nomisxid at 10:01 AM on November 30, 2009


Really, more hotels and shopping? Is the shopping really going to be any different than at any upscale mall on the planet earth? Is there a clockwork owl store? Maybe a place to buy mandalas and dreamcatchers made of hair from scalped Apaches? How is what is in this place going to differ at all from what is available 2 blocks away in any given direction.

Vegas is America at its least creative. It's not surprising to me at all that the economy there sucks. The entire city's economy is predicated on the tourists being attracted to all the new shiny new casinos but not being smart enough to figure out that the mere existence of those new shiny buildings means the gambling odds are stacked heavily against them.

Well, guess what, we figured it out. Las Vegas would be better off if they abandonded the city, let the desert reclaim it for ten years, and then pitch it as a new tourist attraction: "Come see America's Desert Apocalypse! Watch as coyotes hunt prairie dogs among the torn craps tables and abandoned stripper thongs along the fabled Las Vegas Strip!"

They'd probably get more visitors.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:23 AM on November 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


Vegas may be struggling, but it's got nothing on Reno. Downtown is really freakin' sad with Fitzgerald's shuttered.
posted by Nelson at 10:31 AM on November 30, 2009


So THIS is that giant ass thing they were building on strip.

... huh.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:42 AM on November 30, 2009


You know what? Screw it. Let's just add a fountain the spews molten gold.
posted by Theta States at 10:59 AM on November 30, 2009


(the that)
posted by Theta States at 11:04 AM on November 30, 2009


the actual number of jobs that it creates will not be as many as the number of construction jobs that will end.

I'm all for job growth but this seems like an unfair argument. Aren't all construction jobs temporary? They're not building the Winchester Mystery House here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:09 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Las Vegas and Macau are unique cities, in that they are built entirely because evolution did not gift most of us with brains that are able to calculate odds. This notion fascinates me. I don't think any other cities in the world are built to exploit evolutionary traits in quite the same way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


evolution did not gift most of us with brains that are able to calculate odds.

I don't know. Any c level arithmetic student can learn how to calculate odds. People gamble in spite of knowing the odds. A whole other non-cerebral thing is going on when people go to gamble.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: "Las Vegas and Macau are unique cities, in that they are built entirely because evolution did not gift most of us with brains that are able to calculate odds. This notion fascinates me. I don't think any other cities in the world are built to exploit evolutionary traits in quite the same way."

Other cities aren't built solely for casinos like Vegas but lots of them are frantically building ones lately, thinking that they're some sort of magic tax revenue machines. There's one a mile from my house that they city and state gave all kinds of sweetheart deals to the developer to build and (shockingly) it isn't living up to revenue expectations.
posted by octothorpe at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2009


If you look at gambling as entertainment that comes at a variable cost, you're not so bad off. You can sit at a blackjack table for a few hours, spend somewhere between -$200 and $200, and have (maybe more than) a couple drinks. Are there better ways to spend money? Sure. But there are also better meals than White Castle, and who doesn't succumb to the crave every now and again?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:39 AM on November 30, 2009


(Then again, the people cashing their paychecks at the casino cashier probably don't look at it that way.)
posted by uncleozzy at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2009


I was in Vegas around 1 year ago, and while the spectacle was amazing (gaudy and disgusting, at times, but still amazing), I have no real desire to return.

Despite this, the friends that I was with are all psyched about "going back to Vegas". I don't feel it myself, but I think I can understand it. Going to Vegas means that you're going to lose money - a lot of it. You're going to lose money by just throwing it away, basically, but if you're rich enough to be blowing that cash then that means that you're rich. You've made it to the point where you can look at 49:50 odds (at best) and think "fuck it, why not?" Even if you're financing that with debt, and in fact, aren't actually that rich, then you feel rich. Vegas is wish fulfillment, as it seemed to me. Just as much as it's the concrete and glass replicas of better places, Vegas is a fake idea that the middle class has of being wealthy.

I have no desire to return to Vegas, but I'm glad that I went that one time.
posted by codacorolla at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Mrs. FoB and I went to Las Vegas for a wedding in February of '08 (on Leap Day, to be precise, so the couple only has to celebrate their anniversary once every four years). We took the opportunity to stay there for most of a week and make a whole vacation out of it, and we gambled, ate at the buffets, saw some shows, and generally did the whole Vegas thing. And you know what? I enjoyed it. I had a fun, indulgent time. More and more now, though, I'm starting to feel like we got to experience something that's gone away forever, like visiting New Orleans a week before Katrina.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:54 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


OH YEAH THAT JG BALLARD THEME PARK IN NEVADA? THAT SHIT IS CRAZY.
posted by everichon at 12:12 PM on November 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


One of the things I enjoyed discovering about myself is that I do not possess whatever is "wrong" in some folks heads that makes them likely to be gambling addicts. I played a little, winning a bit and losing a bit, and never felt anything other than "these people are here to take my money, guess I'll enjoy a drink in the meantime."

I'm still trying to figure out the boom in Vegas and Phoenix housing prices.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2009


maxwelton, the boom was speculators from SoCal with too much credit getting lots of loans and buying "vacation homes" in Vegas, then reselling as the market bubble created by the cheap money/credit expanded.
Where I live now, there are 8 houses on my block, and 4 of them are empty with for rent signs. There's another block around the corner where every house is empty, most in forclosure. And I live in a "nice" part of town.

One thing I noticed. I visited here in 1999, and stayed at the Luxor for $35/night for a week. When I moved here in 2006, you couldn't get a room at he Luxor for less than $150/night. Last week I saw rooms advertised for $50/night at the Luxor. Many of the hotels on the Strip are reducing their prices again. I don't think it will help, but it's something I thought should have happened a long time ago.
posted by daq at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2009


Ah Vegas. I'm driving in on Wednesday and flying back home on Friday, which is about the time it takes for my low level of tolerance for The Strip to completely transform to utter loathing. In younger days, being a restless SoCal kid, Vegas was just one of those places we went to two or three times a year because it was there and it was crazy and loud and a drunken adventure. Now the sheer eye-glazing amount of sameness of every casino, both new and old, both on The Strip and Downtown, limits any ability I once had to enjoy the place. For the last 15 or so years the Vegas skyline has been just been a collection of cranes erecting the same hotel rooms on top of the same casinos.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2009


Many of the hotels on the Strip are reducing their prices again. I don't think it will help...

It's already helped -- room occupancy is near peak despite the recession. Casinos aren't raking it in like they have in the past, but they're still making a fortune daily, and gambling is only a part of it.

I have friends who vacation in Vegas all the time, and it has nothing to do with gambling. It's a SUPER cheap place to fly to, stay in a nice hotel, and do just about anything you could want. Those who thing of Vegas as a bunch of casinos have either never been here, or (foolishly) never left the Strip.

the actual number of jobs that it creates will not be as many as the number of construction jobs that will end.


As is the case with every major construction project. Not sure what the point is.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now the sheer eye-glazing amount of sameness of every casino, both new and old, both on The Strip and Downtown, limits any ability I once had to enjoy the place.

So leave the Strip & downtown -- it takes about 10 minutes even in heavy traffic. Backpacking, hiking, boating, mountain-biking, skiing (in season), camping, horseback riding, Grand Canyon day trip ... and those are just spur-of-the-minute things I've done this year.

Seriously, I've been forced to stay in small towns where there was next to nothing and still had a blast. If you can't find fun in Las Vegas, you'll be unhappy pretty much anywhere.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:13 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know I really do try to not just post GRAR GRAR EVERYTHING IS BAD but man, Las Vegas is the worst. It's city-as-parasite, growth for the sake of growth. Phoenix without the charm, L.A. without the long-term planning. And now another ugly pointless megadevelopment. Fuck that town except for Penn & Teller and that place where you can get a beer and a hot dog for like a buck fifty.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:19 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those who thing of Vegas as a bunch of casinos have either never been here, or (foolishly) never left the Strip.

To do what exactly?

So leave the Strip & downtown -- it takes about 10 minutes even in heavy traffic. Backpacking, hiking, boating, mountain-biking, skiing (in season), camping, horseback riding, Grand Canyon day trip ... and those are just spur-of-the-minute things I've done this year.

Oooooh I see.

I'm not sure why I'd need to leave Los Angeles to do all of those things. Camping, horseback riding, etc are all events available pretty much anywhere in the country. There are better places to ski than LV (not that I'm much of a skier.) Las Vegas is about the casinos. It's the reason the city exists.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2009


ski than LV

than places near LV, is what I meant.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:26 PM on November 30, 2009


Las Vegas was basically the perfect place to totally hog out on crank but now that I don't do crank I can't see much of reason for it to exist.
posted by The Straightener at 1:31 PM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


The morning local radio show on NPR is talking about how once City Center opens, the actual number of jobs that it creates will not be as many as the number of construction jobs that will end.

I hear they're making Ocean's Ten next.
posted by dhartung at 1:33 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mr. F and I hole up in one of the hotels for Christmas every year that we don't have family obligations. We bring a tiny 3' fake tree and any books/ comics/ DVDs we haven't had time to get to. Set the tree up, watch some movies, read, hang out, get a drink now and then, walk down to the Bellagio Christmas Eve and watch four or five fountain shows in a row. Christmas lunch is our one big fancy-restaurant meal a year, followed by watching movies, drinking, and reading comic books.

You could do a lot worse, and the only time I hit the casinos is for nickel slots. A good nickel slots payout will get you the traditional Christmas Eve late-night snack at Nathan's Famous in New York New York, after all.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:33 PM on November 30, 2009


Vegas has museums, opera, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Cirque Du Soleil, and a bunch of smut. Myself, I like to go rent full auto submachine guns at the gun range. Still, as a non-gambler, there's no Vegas specific fun stuff after about a three day weekend.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2009


I still regret not going to Vegas when the Star Trek Experience was still open, at least the first few years when it was new and shiny. That said, I don't particularly have any impulse to go there now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2009


Well, guess what, we figured it out. Las Vegas would be better off if they abandonded the city, let the desert reclaim it for ten years

Vegas will be fine. They just got caught up in the debt-fueled real estate market like a lot of other places, particularly in the southwest. Right now the casinos are in a bit of posturing, and eventually some will die and/or get bought out, but some of them have a hell of a lot of cash to ride it out for a long time, and the ones which survive will probably do very well when things rebound. They have some room left to decline, and the jobs market fueled by construction will die, but Vegas isn't going anywhere.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:44 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


...already cost $8.5 billion and six lives...

Does anyone know how this compares to other construction projects (accounting for scope, of course)? I mean, that sounds pretty terrible to me, and according to Wikipedia, there was a walk off, but I'm still not clear if it's unexpected.
posted by Cogito at 1:46 PM on November 30, 2009


I don't know. Any c level arithmetic student can learn how to calculate odds. People gamble in spite of knowing the odds. A whole other non-cerebral thing is going on when people go to gamble.

These prices are based on what I did back in the '90s when I used to go for Dead shows ... You can get a room split between four people for like $50 each, take $200-300 with you for gambling, and sit at the $2-3 blackjack tables. Get free drinks (may not be possible anymore), and eventually you end up enough where you can walk away and get an all-you-can-eat buffet with steak and lobster for like $5. I did this four years, and I ended up going home with nothing three times, but once I broke even on the deal. So, $200-300 for a weekend in Vegas, room, food and drinks included, and if you get lucky you might end up with money coming back. Not bad, really. The trick is booking ahead enough to get good rates on rooms and knowing when to walk away from a blackjack table. One year I almost lost my whole budget on the first table ....
posted by krinklyfig at 1:51 PM on November 30, 2009


...already cost $8.5 billion and six lives...

And really, name one multi-building, multi-use mega-development in HISTORY that has ever made money for its developers? (Yeah, yeah, yeah, Rockefeller Center. But it lost money for those who built it.) Now, they're going ahead with Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Why? Why?
posted by Faze at 1:55 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't get the "Vegas sucks" mantra here. First off, 99% of you mean "the Strip sucks." So don't go. There's an enormous world with prettier places to vacation if gambling and strippers aren't your thing. Try Branson, Missouri.

What I'm really perplexed by though, is usually when people complain about something, it's in nostalgia for the "old days." The "old days" of Vegas were a handful of seedy whorehouses with blackjack tables that were funding organized crime, and the "old days" before that were a series of watering holes and desert sinkholes so intolerable the Mormons didn't even want to have missions there. It's like when people complain about how Times Square is today. I was a child there in the 80's, and by that I mean as a child I couldn't fucking go near Times Square because it was a cesspool of strip clubs and drug dens.

I just don't get this comparing of another (gasp!) hotel and resort in Vegas to the idea of, say, ripping up Stonehenge for a theme park or paving Yellowstone for a golf course. It's not really like they got rid of something better to build the damn thing. Bitching about another hotel in Vegas is like bitching about a new ride at DisneyWorld.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:08 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Vegas will be fine.

... right up until the whole water situation already developing in that part of the country really starts to be a crisis, and then it will be abandoned because it's a desert city with no actual way to provide H2O for itself without importing it.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM on November 30, 2009


According to this article there were congressional hearings on the matter, so I'd guess it seemed Serious Enough. My envelope math using these stats says that for 8K employees they should have lost about 2.6 employees in the three years they've been working on the project.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:15 PM on November 30, 2009


I don't get the "Vegas sucks" mantra here. First off, 99% of you mean "the Strip sucks."

Eh, all of it kind of sucks. The Strip actually is less guilty of "sucking" water than the rest of the residential neighborhoods with thirsty grass lawns and man made ponds in the middle of the desert. Plus, a new ride at DisneyWorld hardly scales the same as a giant hotel/retail/casino complex in terms of resource usage.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:17 PM on November 30, 2009


... right up until the whole water situation already developing in that part of the country really starts to be a crisis, and then it will be abandoned because it's a desert city with no actual way to provide H2O for itself without importing it.

That's true of several southwestern cities. Gambling has paid for a hell of a lot, and I'm sure they'll import water as long as they can make a profit. Vegas is not a great place to live for the reason you state, but I can't see it affecting tourism too much.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:21 PM on November 30, 2009


Any c level arithmetic student can learn how to calculate odds.

Beyond simple examples, probability is not a trivial subject. Smart people make mistakes. Even so, there are those non-math professors who could learn those kinds of calculations yet still buy lotto tickets. Whether capable or not, a lot of folks are equipped with brains that have a broken, irrational facility for calculating risk. The rest who are lucky enough just to have a tough time with probability, either run the casinos or warn others away from them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on November 30, 2009


On Leap Day, to be precise, so the couple only has to celebrate their anniversary once every four years

...that is...awesome. Damn it. Why didn't we think of that? Of course, we would have had to wait two years to get married.
posted by emjaybee at 4:35 PM on November 30, 2009


End of an Era.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:14 PM on November 30, 2009


PeterMcDermott: "End of an Era."

That era died Christmas Day 1989.

This news is more like discontinuing life support for Terri Schiavo.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:09 PM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting for the Hotel Las Vegas to open up in Vegas. Here's my concept of a meta-themed hotel, which came to me in a flash after visiting LV in 2003:

There are plenty of people who really don't like traveling. These are the kind of people who would rather stay in a hotel room and not venture out much, which fits well in Vegas given the amenities the hotels provide there. So, for the accidental tourists who happen to find themselves in Vegas, who wish to have the Las Vegas experience without venturing into Las Vegas itself, there's the Hotel Las Vegas. There will be duplicates of the Strip inside the building, so you can say you've checked out the other hotels. You can see impersonations of famous Vegas acts--why go see Wayne Newton at the Stardust when you can see the Wayne Newton Experience at the Hotel Las Vegas? Why go see Siegfried and Roy and their white tigers when you can see the S & R Experience at the Hotel Las Vegas (Helmut und Josef and their white ocleots!)? And so on. Also, if you are too lazy to leave your room, you can watch these imitators on special pay-per-view channels. If you wander around the hotel grounds, you will have people paid to be handing you the fake porn fliers and business cards, and hotel employees will be paid to be the escorts that you see around town. It will be a full meta-experience in Vegas!
posted by stannate at 6:35 PM on November 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ah, but in 1949, after drivin' from L.A. all through the afternoon and most of the night in a '37 Buick with all the windows down and three water bags hangin' off the bumpers, two of 'em empty by then, The Strip was a glorious thing to behold.
posted by carping demon at 8:01 PM on November 30, 2009


What I don't understand about Vegas is why all of those casinos aren't festooned with solar panels. I mean, wouldn't that make sense?

If my electricity bill was as big as a casino's, you'd better believe I'd be sucking up all the free solar I could.
posted by ErikaB at 8:50 PM on November 30, 2009


I mean, wouldn't that make sense?

Even with rebates and other incentives, solar panels can't compete yet. Don't expect casino owners to push the curve ahead by buying up panels to help drive development costs down. Give it 10-15 years (and a little luck) and we'll be covered in cheap, ultra-efficient solar panels. Hell, maybe the stuff will come in a spray can and you can just hook up leads to either side of the surface you coat and start drawing in the kilowatts. But for now, they're still a non-starter, especially as far as gambling shops are concerned.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 PM on November 30, 2009


I think people who comment on Meta-Filter and the people who go to Las Vegas a lot don't overlap much. Eh, those who "Par-Tay" will continue to do so.
posted by peppito at 11:01 PM on November 30, 2009


What I don't understand about Vegas is why all of those casinos aren't festooned with solar panels. I mean, wouldn't that make sense?
To a lot of people, unfortunately, any hint of conservation, elegance, efficiency, forethought, etc., reads as “poor”. You don't go to Las Vegas! to gamble at a casino that can't afford to pay its bills without hanging solar panels on its roof. I suspect that people who have this outlook are more heavily represented in the population that visits glitzy desert gambling resorts than in the population that visits websites with unprofessional blue backgrounds, despite some overlap in those populations.

Las Vegas, the tourist attraction, is all about the display of extravagant excess. If the hotels could put solar panels on the roof without anyone knowing, they might do it. Or might already have done, for all I know.
posted by hattifattener at 12:03 AM on December 1, 2009


What I don't understand about Vegas is why all of those casinos aren't festooned with solar panels. I mean, wouldn't that make sense?

1. The idea of each new casino is to look unique and luxurious. Every hotel having solar panels would negate that. That's the only reason that's more selfish than practical though.

2. Since each new building tries to literally shadow over the next, solar panels seem highly irrelevant and mostly useless since half the buildings in Vegas block light from each other.

3. The amount of power Vegas consumes requires far more than some panels on the roof. An airforce base near Vegas uses over 70,000 panels. Imagine what the Strip would need. (Vegas is, however, installing solar panels in parking garages and government buildings, so a moderate effort is being made)

4. Unfortunately, one of the other energy-efficient requirements for solar panels is a clean atmospheric environment, which the Strip can't provide. Why? Because if the air is dirty, then you're wasting tons more water and energy to clean the panels.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:59 AM on December 1, 2009


« Older “For surely of all the drugs in the world, Chess...   |   Show me the working! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post