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Tax Abatement Prompts More Casinos to Bet on LEED

With 18 million square feet of building space, MGM Mirage’s planned CityCenter in Las Vegas, a $7 Billion project, will be the largest LEED-certified structure in the U.S. to date, the Las Vegas Sun reports.

CityCenter entered the LEED picture after 2005, when the Nevada Legislature created the nation’s only statewide tax abatement program for owners of LEED-certified buildings. The legislation allows businesses to cut property taxes 35 percent to 50 percent.

The tax abatement program has led to a trend that has been so rapid that by the time CityCenter opens its doors in November 2009, state and local officials say most casino companies and other big developers in Las Vegas will be considering, if not building, LEED-certified structures.

Boyd Gaming officials say they hope to obtain LEED certification for Echelon Place, a $4 billion resort complex to begin construction midyear at the Stardust site. The same is true for the Cosmopolitan resort under construction at Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.

“We’re at a tipping point where (businesses) realize this is going to save them money, not cost them money,” said Art Gensler of the global architecture firm Gensler, CityCenter’s executive architect.

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