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Harmon hotel tower dismantling begins in Las Vegas

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The structurally flawed and half-finished Harmon Hotel and Spa tower is finally being dismantled on the Las Vegas Strip. Work crews began razing of the tower yesterday according to a published report by the Las Vegas Sun. Workmen began the dismantling by removing scrap metal and other construction materials from inside the structure.

The never-occupied tower has been the subject of a massive and ongoing legal dispute between owner MGM Resorts International and builder Tutor Perini Building Co. for several years. The structure was designed as a 48-story tower and a component of the $8.5 billion City Center complex, but inspectors discovered flaws in steel reinforcement aspects of the concrete structure in 2008 during the building process. A third party inspector had falsified 62 daily reports between March and July 2008 which stated that building progress was satisfactory when in fact it wasn't. That finding prompted project shutdown and eventual building redesign. Complicating the entire scenario was the fact that it all occurred during the throes of a severe economic recession which had nearly bankrupted MGM Resorts International's City Center project.

Since the inspection discovery, the building of the tower ceased at 26 stories and has essentially served as an expensive billboard since that time and during ongoing litigation between the principals. On May 5, a judge issued an order allowing the dismantling to proceed after countless hearings and legal arguments.

Pedestrian protection systems will be installed over adjacent sidewalks and walkways during the expected year-long dismantling process. The street-level sidewalk immediately adjacent to the structure will be closed during the razing. A crane will be moved to the site during the next few weeks according to officials.

The tower will be dismantled floor-by-floor with an expected demolition cost of $11.5 million. The blue-glass Harmon tower has served as an iconic reminder of the Vegas real estate boom excess gone bust due to the recession.

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