LAS VEGAS (AP) – In the end, demolition workers used an Old West method on Tuesday to finish an incomplete casino implosion in Las Vegas.
“They lassoed the building with steel cables, got a crane, and pulled and pulled and pulled,” Clarion hotel-casino site owner Lorenzo Doumani said after a stubborn elevator shaft was brought down.
“The building is finally down,” he said late in the afternoon.
So ended the 13-hour saga of the 13th hotel implosion in Las Vegas since 1993.
The 200-room building between the Strip and the Las Vegas Convention Center opened in 1970 as the Royal Inn, and over the years had been known in various incarnations as the Debbie Reynolds for its one-time owner and as the Greek Isles and the Paddle Wheel.
It was mostly reduced to the dustbin of Las Vegas history by a 2-ton explosive punch about 3 a.m. that didn’t quite topple the elevator shaft as the 12-story, former casino-hotel came down around it.
When the dust cleared, the concrete block structure had dropped about four stories but still stood upright – and leaning – at a height of about 100 feet.
Anthony Schlecht, corporate safety coordinator for Burke Construction, said he was investigating why the shaft didn’t collapse with the rest of the structure.
With no wrecking balls immediately available and the remainder of the building considered a safety hazard, crews went to Plan B – cables and a crane, Doumani said.
The Clarion was no marquee property on the scale of the Stardust, which was imploded eight years ago, or the Dunes, which made way in 1993 for the Bellagio.
The Clarion’s building and rooms resembling cubicles just didn’t work, Doumani said.
Between 2004 and 2007, six Vegas properties were brought down. But in the eight years since then, the only Strip-side implosions involved a segment of the Tropicana and a parking structure.
Doumani said he hopes to have a plan in place by the end of the year to build a 60-story hotel tower without condos or a casino that could be the tallest occupied building in Las Vegas.
As for that number 13? Doumani said not to expect any happenings on the site on Friday the 13th.
Amanda Dickerson never stayed at the Clarion or any of its incarnations, but she reveled in its demise after traveling from Ripon, Wisconsin, to check off an unlikely item on her life’s bucket list: witness a building implosion in person.
“We don’t do this in Wisconsin,” she said after the dust had almost settled in the morning. “It was truly amazing.”
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.
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