Wednesday, May 16, 2012

City Center, Las Vegas: A City Within Itself

The urban complex that is City Center Las Vegas.
(photo credit:
The view from Las Vegas Boulevard: (from left) Veer Towers, Aria Resort
& Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa. In the forefront is the Crystals dining,
retail and entertainment complex. Not pictured is the Mandarin Oriental
and the unfinished Harmon Hotel.
(photo credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
Returning to Las Vegas last month after a break of four years, I had resisted visiting City Center. I had planned a second trip to Vegas for this month knowing I would have more time to explore the massive complex. Things have surely changed. Back in 2008 when I last walked along this portion of the Las Vegas Strip, I recall only the steel skeletons of the center's buildings.

The Cosmopolitan at Las Vegas, where I am staying during this trip, is a neighbor of City Center and sometimes mistaken as part of the complex. Separated by Harmon Avenue, a pedestrian bridge connects the Cosmopolitan's second level with City Center's "The Crystals" retail district.

City Center is simply staggering and was featured in an episode of the Discovery Channel series "Build It Bigger" (click HERE to link to iTunes to purchase and view the episode). The complex is 76 acres and was the largest privately funded construction project in U.S. history. This spot of prime Vegas real estate formerly was home to the Boardwalk Hotel and Casino, a parking lot and various commercial buildings.

Owned by MGM Resorts International and operated with Dubai World and built for approximately $9.2 billion, City Center is comprised of the following structures:

  • Aria Resort & Casino, the centerpiece of City Center rising 61 stories includes 4,004 hotel rooms and a 150,000 square foot casino and showroom.
  • Vdara Hotel & Spa, the 57-story hotel-condo tower with 1,495 rooms that made the news for its infamous "death ray."
  • Mandarin Oriental, part of the luxury chain this location is mixed-use with 392 hotel rooms and 225 condos housed in 56 stories.
  • Veer Towers, twin 37-story towers reputed for their leaning design is comprised of 674 condo units.
  • The Crystals, the center's 500,000 square-foot entertainment, retail and restaurant complex.
  • Harmon Hotel, reduced from 50-story tower reduced to a 25-story shell that was planned to be a non-gaming boutique hotel and much written about for its construction problems.

As I wonder through City Center, the next few posts will highlight the individual elements that make up the complex. For more info visit

The monorail (bottom center) joins City Center with the Bellagio
and Monte Carlo hotels and crosses over Harmon Avenue in this photo.
(photo credit: TheHopefulTraveler)
Rather than being completed in segments, each structure of City Center
was constructed at the same time.
(photo credit: Las Vegas Real Estate)
 This rendering of City Center shows the Harmon Hotel at its originally
planned 50-story height. The Harmon is the oblong tower at right covered
 in multi-colored blue glass.
(photo credit: TheHopefulTraveler)


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