Coming Soon

Very dour outlook in Nevada.

The decay in Vegas doesn’t stay there: It reverberates throughout the state. “Coming Soon” signs have been pulled down across the city, because nothing is coming soon other than more foreclosures. The Nevada landscape is pockmarked by empty condos and casinos, some of them fully built and sitting there empty, others are shells frozen in time. When analysts talk abstractly about Wall Street sucking capital out of the real economy, these stalled construction projects are the on-the-ground reality. “60% Reduced Prices” promises one empty condo development.

The $3.1 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas construction project sits nearly complete but the lender pulled out and everybody is suing everybody else. The first Ritz-Carlton in the company’s history to shut down is in Las Vegas.

And as the article title asserts, this is the future for much of the country. I wish I could say or you could think that this is wholly attributable to the economic recession and unrelated to the causes underpinning our crisis of ecology, but we can’t. Unsustainable growth, over-building, mindless reliance on cheap materials and energy, exacerbating resource scarcity… it’s all there. There is greed but also ambivalence about consequences that is too obvious to ignore, that allows for the kinds of rapacious development that built Las Vegas into what it is – which is a gilded yet crumbling metropolis, in the desert, no less. The human toll is tragic and cannot be quantified only by the number of empty subdivisions, but the region’s supposed rebound will be divined in corporate dividends and ephemera like new housing starts. Might as well be reading entrails.

And on top of it all… Fontainebleau? Really?