With the foundation poured and two massive concrete pillars in place, construction crews on Tuesday began phase two of the 500-foot SkyVue observation wheel project on the Las Vegas Strip.
Semi-trucks hauling the wheel's support cables arrived before noon. Earlier in the day bulldozers began to clear an area for SkyVue's two-story retail and dining area.
When completed, SkyVue will feature 140,000 square feet of shopping space and a 21,000-square-foot convention facility on a site directly across from Mandalay Bay.
"We're very excited about it. We'll probably employ between 700 and a thousand people during construction and probably double that amount once the project is open," said SkyVue co-manager David Gaffin.
Despite the excitement, some are questioning if SkyVue will open at all because it has yet to secure all the needed funding.
"We had a lot of hotels that were securing funding as they were going along, and that's what led to a lot of problems when the recession hit," said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV.
The total price tag for the project is around $180 million. The company behind SkyVue says it has secured the initial construction funding but won't say how much more is needed for completion.
"We're very confident that the remainder of that will be forthcoming as well, but we can continue on and have the construction funding done internally," said Gaffin.
The project is scheduled to be up and running by the fall of 2013. In December of 2013, Caesars Entertainment's own observation wheel is set to open as part of the LINQ project behind Imperial Palace.
Caesars said funding for that project is completely secured. Although two observation wheels might seem excessive, Schwartz said both could be profitable.
"Probably 20 years ago people thought you could never put a roller coaster in a Las Vegas casino, but we've had a couple of those, some of which are still going," he said. "They very well both may be successful."
Upon its scheduled opening in July 2013, SkyVue will feature 32 glass-walled gondolas and two 50,000-square-foot LED screens on each side.
Copyright 2012 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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