Las Vegas Construction Meltdown

February 11, 2009
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I had heard that Las Vegas construction was in huge trouble. According to the reports, the financial meltdown had broken the city’s back. The cranes were idle, the jackhammers silent and the workers sent packing. Put a fork in all those huge building projects--they're dead.

Regardless, after a month of sub-zero temperatures in Michigan, I was thrilled to head to Las Vegas to attend three trade shows last week. Not only would I find out what flooring, roofing, and site prep pros are encountering, I could witness firsthand all those building projects left for dead.

To get a closer look, I strapped on my New Balance shoes and starting running. I made it about a hundred yards from my hotel, Planet Hollywood, when the giant PH Westgate Towers project gleamed at me.

Too bad it’s shut down, I thought. The building envelope was nearly complete.

But it wasn’t shut down. Workers were on the ground, in the building and yes, even operating a crane. At least one Las Vegas project was on track. 

I ran down Harmon Street until I came to some utility trucks near the Hard Rock Hotel. It appeared the cable and electric companies were installing new lines. Next to them was a worker on a hoist spray-coating a new parking structure. And just a few yards further was a large crew operating earthmoving equipment to reshape the hotel’s entrance.

OK, at least entertainment-themed hotels were still expanding. Yet I was certain the carcasses of dozens of buildings were just ahead on the Las Vegas Boulevard.

As I headed north on the strip, I braced for the worst. I was approaching the $8 billion City Center project, which had promised to redefine the Las Vegas skyline. Without a doubt, this mammoth project would be a ghost town, an eerie tribute to the depth of our economic crisis.

But surprisingly, even from a distance, I could see that the project had made significant progress since my last visit. The skeletal shape of numerous buildings came into view.

Once I got closer, I saw steel, cement and glass in great quantities, plus the foundations for some type of elevated tram system.

As I approached the site, I heard the wonderful sound of work vehicles, power tools and heavy equipment. Amongst the dust, dozens-no, hundreds of vest-clad construction workers peppered the buildings. And yes, even some cranes were operating.

I took a few moments to enjoy this scene. Construction pros were working all over Las Vegas. New construction had not ground to a halt. Most projects, while suffering, were still moving forward.

Yes, I know that project financiers and managers are still wringing their hands. They are deathly concerned their construction loans will be called, investors will bail and the funds needed to keep construction pros on the job will disappear.

But at least for now, those pros are still working. Let’s hope carpenters, plumbers, HVAC, stone and tile, drywallers, carpet layers, flooring installers, electricians and dozens of other tradesmen and women will get their chance to finish those jobs soon.

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Las Vegas Unemployed

Bill Rogers
February 11, 2009
Tim, too bad we didn't hook up last week, i was also in Vegas attending just the World of Concrete show. I agree with your observations, but would add that the work being performed is just a skelaton of its former self. The trade unions, who perform much of the work on the strip, reported to me hundreds of workers on their books, waiting for something to break. The first time they ahve seen this much unemployment in a good long while, maybe even since 9-11.

LV Construction

Tim Fausch
February 11, 2009
Bill, I wrote this blog hoping those closer to the situation in LV would weigh in. While I was pleased to see some construction, it's true that what I saw was skeletal. What are the unions anticipating in the months ahead?

LV Construction

Bill Rogers
February 12, 2009
The truth is, no one has a clue. The funding for construction in the stimulus package is geared towards infastructure. The building on the strip is geared at entertainment for people who are confident in their financial situation. It might be awhile before things turn around enough for confidence to begin to turn around. Sort of a "trickel up" concept I guess...

LV construction

Mark
February 13, 2009
Tim Las Vegas is suffering like the rest of the nation. Projects have been scaled down and some condos that planned to be for sale are now going to be rentals. It is a little tough, but not catastrophic. there was a time when anyone with trade skill could go to vegas and get work. Now they are being very selective. Everyone is very nervous about the future. hopefully , it will not turn

SMALL CONTRACTOR

JOHN
March 26, 2009
THE LARGE CONTRACTORS THAT I WOULD USE AS A BAROMETER FOR MY BUSINESS ARE NOW CLOSING THERE DOORS. WE ARE IN REAL TROUBLE HERE. john @ http://www.oursteelworks.com

machines

me
June 28, 2009
off topic but you guys in the business need to know. Be aware of these machines(http://www.sasso-usa.com), they are with software bugs & mechanical defects also they have a hidden parameter that can be programed to stop the machine after a number of working hours(illegal) , so you would have to call them for assistance. The pressure rollers jam and the materials slide on the conveyor-belt. Also the rust easily.

machines

me
June 28, 2009
off topic but you guys in the business need to know. Be aware of these machines(http://www.sasso-usa.com), they are with software bugs & mechanical defects also they have a hidden parameter that can be programed to stop the machine after a number of working hours(illegal) , so you would have to call them for assistance. The pressure rollers jam and the materials slide on the conveyor-belt. Also the rust easily.

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