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Trying to Make Sense of Las Vegas's CityCenter

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You need a helicopter to get a view--and an understanding of--Las Vegas's CityCenter, that shiny architectural jambalaya opening this month. There are six properties, but the anchor of the $8.5 billion project is #2 on the map aka the Aria Resort & Casino. You can't buy a condo in that building, but you can purchase a condo in three other buildings. Meanwhile, with all the hotel rooms and condos coming on the market, some news outlets are betting that the MGM Mirage/Dubai World-funded CityCenter "will make or break Las Vegas." Such pressure. Who'd want to be responsible for breaking Vegas. After the jump, an explanation of each building.

1. Mandarin Oriental Hotel: Ah, what a burn that Vegas gets a Mandarin Oriental before the Grand Ave project does. This 47-story tower will offer 392 hotel rooms and 227 residences. The hotel opens Saturday; closings on the condo units will start in January. Prices for the condos at Mandarin start at $1.6 million. The architect is Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

2. Aria Resort and Casino: Will offer 4,004 rooms. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. If it interests you, the Elvis Cirque de Soleil show will play here. Opening December 16th. The resort will offer 16 restaurants, 10 bars and lounges, and 150,000 square feet of gambling. No condos here, however. So on we move to the...

3. Vdara Hotel & Spa: This is some crazy condo/hotel hybrid building offering 1,495 suites. Already open, it was designed by Rafael Vinoly. Every unit comes fully furnished. You purchase the unit and either you can live in it, or you can choose to own it, but have the condo rented out nightly. We asked if you could just choose to rent it out monthly, but were told it was a nightly rental deal. Also, it's a non-gaming, and non-smoking building. Prices start at $500,000.

4. The Harmon: This is the one that was previously featured on Curbed LA; the exterior looks like a Beyonce nightclub dress. It was designed by Foster + Partners, and will offer 400 guest rooms. It's a straight-up non-gaming hotel. Opening in late 2010. No condos here, but it will offer a Mr. Chow restaurant, Frederick Fekkai hair salon, more. Being marketed as uber-exclusive.

5. Crystals: The retail component. Opening today, it offers 500,000 square feet of stores including a Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Ermenegildo Zegna, H. Stern, Marni and Mikimoto. Designed by Daniel Libeskind and David Rockwell. Libeskind has brought the fallen pointy to this building, yes.

6. Veer: This is a two-tower condo project. There are 335 units, and the project was designed by Helmut Jahn. Practically the affordable housing portion of the bunch, studios start at $350,000. Closings will begin in February. Check out the web cam views via this link. Cranes!
· City Center [Official Site]