My wife was selected to attend a conference in Las Vegas this week and so on Thursday, while Jon and Ben were presenting at the Symposium on Small Towns in Morris, MN, I was getting on a plane to join her in Sin City. I'm not a big gambler (although I enjoy the occasional bet on my Twins or a roll of the dice) and, being from a small town in the Midwest, I also find Vegas a little brash for my sensibilities - for example, my waitress at dinner tonight was wearing less than my wife would wear to the beach on a hot day.
Besides some sans kids time with the love of my life, what brought me back here this time was my desire to rubberneck at the devastation the housing bubble has wrought. The planning version of a bloody traffic accident. The plane ride in did not disappoint. I wanted to take some photos but was afraid the Delta flight crew may attack me for trying to sabotage the plane with my electronic device.
(As a side note: It is not very reassuring that someone with authority actually believes that my $150 MP3 player could bring down a multi-million dollar airliner. I think it is the same person that wrote the edict forcing me to remove my Nike sandals for the security screening. That same edict that compels me to pack my toothpaste in a sandwich bag while leaving my sandwich at home. This is one of those times our great grandkids will look back at and just scratch their heads.)
Anyway, here are some photos from Google Earth that show what I saw. This is the stuff that was basically abandoned before it could be constructed. Of course, there are many more times this where the housing is actually built and unoccupied and/or financially underwater.
The last time I was here was during the American Planning Association conference in 2008, just when the housing bubble was starting to reveal itself for the Ponzi scheme it was. There was a lot of delusion here then, and likely still is. I'll know more after poking around a little bit today.
I'm most interested to see the City Center complex that was under construction in 2008. From my drive past it today it looked complete, but I've been told that the condos and other spaces are fairly underutilized. It was an ambitious project, even for Vegas, that involved seven different architects in a kind of modernist-mashup. Here is the Google street view image:
My apologies to those that logged in to get the usual news digest. We'll be back in the groove with news next week, and if I can do some bonus posting from here in Vegas, I will. I hope that everyone has a great weekend.