February 28, 2007

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is considering lengthening the timeline for its $737 million renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center by two years, completing work in 2012 instead of 2010. A spokesperson for the CVA said officials don't want the renovation to disrupt groups already booked at the center; lengthening the schedule would allow new meeting space to be created before the center shuts existing spaces for renovation. Plans call for a new lobby to connect the North, South and Central halls and new meeting rooms in the South hall. The CVA board of directors will vote on the final schematic design in May or June, the spokesperson said, at which time a schedule will be set. Construction still is expected to begin in summer 2008.

Opening tomorrow is The Heldrich, a $120 million mixed-use facility in New Brunswick, N.J. The 248-room property offers a 25,000-square-foot conference center approved by the International Association of Conference Centers; Christopher's Restaurant & Bar; and the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, an arm of Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. The Heldrich is managed by Benchmark Hospitality.

Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center has been declared safe by several independent engineers who conducted inspections following the collapse of a section of concrete on the center's second floor. The firms did, however, recommend that work be finished on the facility before its scheduled reopening on March 9. Crews currently are working to repair the slab of concrete that collapsed, as well as retrofitting several beams along the main expansion joint to prevent another failure.

Richard Branson, founder of the rapidly expanding Virgin empire, has purchased a second British Virgin Island, Moskito Island, to convert it to a luxury eco-resort. His other island, Necker Island, is used as a private getaway for small, exclusive groups; the new 120-acre project will be a larger resort with Balinese-style accommodations. The resort will be completely carbon-neutral.