Nevada high court to hear arguments on Vegas hotel

Ken Ritter, Associated Press
Nevada high court hears arguments on Vegas hotel

The Harmon Hotel tower, right, glows in the light of an electronic marquee along The Strip, Sunday, June 2, 2013, in Las Vegas. The Nevada Supreme Court is about to hear arguments about the fate of the flawed hotel tower that was designed to be the centerpiece of MGM Resorts International's glittery CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip, but never opened. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The fate of a flawed hotel that never opened at the glittery CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip is due for arguments Tuesday before the Nevada Supreme Court.

On one side, property owner MGM Resorts International wants the blue, glass cylindrical Harmon Hotel torn down.

The defendant, project general contractor Tutor Perini Corp., says demolition would be premature.

The five justices hearing the case in Las Vegas are being asked to decide a narrow legal question: Whether a Clark County District Court judge properly determined that tests that tore into parts of the 26-story Harmon Hotel tower to gauge structural integrity met state's legal standards to let experts extrapolate conclusions about the rest of the building.

The high court is also being asked whether the judge improperly sanctioned MGM Resorts for failing to randomly choose test sites.

The building has remained unused since the $8.5 billion CityCenter development opened in December 2009. Co-owned by MGM Resorts and Dubai World, the 67-acre master-planned development features several hotels, condominiums, a casino and an upscale shopping and restaurant complex.

The Harmon was designed to be 48 stories and serve as the project centerpiece. It was shortened by nearly half after construction inspectors found flaws in reinforcing beams as lower floors were built.

MGM Resorts wants demolition even before a Clark County District Court jury begins hearing a nearly $500 million civil construction defect lawsuit next January.

It points to a consultant's April 2011 report that the building could collapse in a strong earthquake.

Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez last summer approved demolition, then withdrew permission in December pending another round of destructive testing.

Perini lawyers have argued that demolishing the tower before trial would destroy evidence and leave the impression in jurors' minds that the builder was to blame.

They say designs were faulty from the start, but the work that was done was good and the building that as built was safe.