It took 9,000 construction workers five years to build CityCenter, a 67-acre, $8.5 billion complex that opened today on the Las Vegas strip, NPR reports. Designed by a host of renowned architects, CityCenter is the most expensive private commercial development investment in the nation's history and the largest project ever built to LEED Gold standards for sustainablity.
CityCenter has spurred much-needed job creation in Las Vegas, and may go down in history as an architectural masterpiece thanks to the collaborative work of designers Rafael Vinoly, Daniel Libeskind, Norman Foster, Helmut Jahn, and Cesar Pelli. But opening such a massive complex in a recession is not going to be easy. CityCenter has marketed itself as the hot, new destination for Vegas tourists, but rooms in the complex's hotels are being sold at deeply discounted rates. The project cost more than $8 billion to build, but it's worth a mere $5 billion in today's slumping real estate market.
CityCenter was also the center of a Las Vegas Sun investigation that exposed a high number of deaths among the complex's construction workers. Pulitzer Prize winner Alexandra Berzon reported that adequate health and safety regulations had fallen to the wayside during the $32 billion construction boom on the Vegas strip that birthed CityCenter. Angered by reports of overly chummy relationships between Vegas safety regulators and commercial developers, CityCenter's construction workers went on strike last year until new safety guidelines were approved. Before the new regulations went into effect in June 2008, 12 workers died during a year and a half of construction. Since the new regulations, there have been no additional deaths, but congressmen at an October committee hearing on the failures of Nevada's Occupational Safety and Health Administration Office made clear that additional slip-ups may mean greater federal oversight.