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LAS VEGAS-The 57-story Vdara Hotel Condo, the first of six high-rise towers going up at the massive Project Citycenter, topped out this week. Developer MGM Mirage says the remaining towers will top out in the coming months as work continues toward an all-at-once opening in late 2009.

Citycenter is rising on 67 acres between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts. The $8-billion project is a 50-50 joint venture of MGM Mirage and Dubai World, a Dubai government conglomerate whose companies include Nakheel, developer of the man-made Palm and World islands off the coast of Dubai.

All told, Citycenter will be home to a 61-story, 4,000-room resort casino; two 400-room, non-gaming hotels; and 2,700 for-sale residential units, including the Vdara. Shopping and entertainment offerings will include an Elvis-themed Cirque du Soleil show and the Crystals, a 500,000-sf retail and entertainment district. The development also will include its own monorail to move people around the site.

Citycenter has often been referred to as a $7.4 billion project; it’s actual gross cost is more than $11 billion. In its first quarter report, MGM Mirage pegged the net project budget at $8.5 million–after an expected $2.7 billion in residential sales. The gross project budget includes $9.2 billion for construction costs (including capitalized interest), $1.7 billion for the land, $200 million for pre-opening expenses and $100 million of “intangible assets.”

With the project’s opening 20 months away, about half of the 2,700 residential units have been sold. Thus far, the mix of buyers have been about one-third Nevada, one-third from Southern California and one third international. About 10% of sales have come from the Middle East, a percentage MGM Mirage and Dubai World hope to grow this year. To that end, a sales center was scheduled to open this month in Dubai.

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