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Contractors Resort to Liens, Lawsuits as Vegas Wheel Stops and Starts

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Tony Illia for ENR
The SkyVue project has shed its liens but still faces delays.
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Until the developer of Las Vegas' newest attraction had filled in the gaps in the project's finances, the contractors' legal bills seemed to be climbing higher than the structure.

Now, according to developer Howard Bulloch, his steel observation wheel and retail complex "is approaching a period of huge momentum" as construction financing has been finalized, tenants sign up and parts for the wheel arrive from around the world.

One of two observation wheel projects being built in Las Vegas, SkyVue has shed its liens but still faces delays. The project's centerpiece will be 500-ft-high and afford views of the Las Vegas Strip.

The legal situation cleared up somewhat January 25th. A Clark County District Court posted that the $5.4 million in mechanics liens against the project had been released.

According to a statement by SkyVue, the project was “required by the title company to go through this process to be able to ensure first priority for our construction loan,” and it now has no outstanding construction debt or liens.

And to counter media reports that the project was in danger of foreclosure, Wayne Perry of Shotgun Creek Investments, a key source of the project's financing, proclaimed that his company has "invested tens of millions in the project and hope they'll allow us to invest more."

San Diego-based general contractor Ledcor Group had filed the largest lien, for $3.3 million, against the project. MMC Inc., a foundations contractor located in Las Vegas, had filed a lawsuit for $1.1 million in unpaid bills in Clark County District Court on January 14.

Previous statements from SkyVue regarding the liens stated that funding was being arranged through Shotgun Creek. Multiple media reports indicated that the investment group also provided $9.5 million to the project last year for the payment of a mortgage, but this could not be confirmed.

Original estimates placed the wheel’s completion date at the end of 2012.

In its Jan. 25 statement, SkyVue said that the observation wheel’s cast-in-place concrete columns have reached a height of 247 ft with two remaining concrete pours until their completion. The wheel’s bearings, yokes and main axle are in the final stages of manufacturing and will arrive at the job site, across from the Mandalay Bay hotel and two blocks from McCarren International Airport, in May or June of this year. The site’s construction crane, which was disassembled in September, is scheduled to arrive for assembly and the final concrete pour at that time.

The project is also located less than two miles from a similar observation developed by Caesars Entertainment. The High Roller, a cable wheel, will be 550 ft tall and is scheduled to accept passengers in the first quarter of 2014.

A public relations director for Caesars Entertainment wrote in an email that the wheel’s four support legs are fully erected at 255 ft tall, and the support brace leg, hub, and spindle will be assembled and erected in about a month.

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