I'm reporting live today from MGM Mirage's CityCenter project, which is finally opening.
For the first time, I got to speak with one of the people buying a condo in the massive complex. David Tuttleman has no plans to abandon his purchase, a bright spot amid concerns that many buyers may walk away from their 20 percent deposits.
"The quality is second to none," says Tuttleman, who will soon close on a two-bedroom penthouse residence in one of CityCenter's leaning Veer towers. Tuttleman put down a deposit early on, when the unit was originally priced around $2.5 million. But as real estate prices collapsed, CityCenter feared contracts wouldn't close. So in October, it lowered all prices 30 percent, meaning Tuttleman's buying the $2.5 million unit for $1.8 million. He says he may even take advantage of the financing which CityCenter is providing through Pennymac (an interesting choice—Pennymac is run by the former #2 at Countrywide who left before things there got wacky).
As CityCenter bordered on bankruptcy this year, and as real estate continued to plunge, did Tuttleman have any second thoughts? "I think everybody has those moments," he says. But the quality won him over, quality that "has never been seen" in Vegas.
Tuttleman is also a huge believer in CityCenter's prospects for survival. "They said Disney World wouldn't work." As for Vegas itself? "It's really gonna be OK."
I've included my interview with David Tuttleman, and energetic restaurateur from Delaware who owns the Kahunaville Cantina at Treasure Island. His condo at Veer will now be his "working home".
Meantime, I also interviewed Bill McBeath, whom you could argue has been the most important man in Nevada this year. McBeath is President and COO of the ARIA Resort & Casino, the heart of CityCenter. His job had been to hire thousands of people in a state where unemployment tops 13 percent. For 12,000 jobs, he received 175,000 applications and interviewed 55,000 prospects.
"Ninety-five percent of those people came from the state of Nevada," he says, "so this truly was a stimulus package for the state."
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