NLV considers partnership to bring water to Apex

North Las Vegas’ pledge to make its largest asset, the sprawling Apex industrial park, work to its advantage is starting to show signs of moving beyond talk to action.

The North Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will consider partnering with Ledcor Construction Co. to study the feasibility of running water to the industrial park. According to the agenda, the contract won’t have a fiscal effect on the budget.

The mayor’s chief of staff, Ryann Juden, said the plan was an example of Mayor John Lee’s commitment to developing Apex and partnering with private industry to make it happen.

Lee announced in October that he wanted to create an 800-acre economic diversification district at Apex. The new designation comes with tax incentives and was born out of legislation crafted in a September special session to bring electric car manufacturer Tesla to Nevada.

“Apex is a game changer for our entire region, and it is great public policy to use the tax incentives … to induce private dollars to develop a public waterline,” Lee said in a Monday statement.

Utilities have been what’s standing in the way of making the 7,000 acres of developable land work in the city’s favor. It’s been described as a “chicken and egg” problem, in which building utilities at the park doesn’t make sense without businesses lined up, and the city can’t line up businesses without utilities. The city is counting on the lure of tax incentives made possible by the legislation to draw in the businesses.

If the construction company’s projections are favorable, private industry will fund what’s needed to extend water service to Apex, Juden said.

Collaboration has been Lee’s big pitch for the site as the key to making an opportunity that’s long been dormant finally realize its potential. His message has been one of serious, stalwart commitment from the city combined with a battle cry that North Las Vegas can’t do this alone.

Lee’s rallying call was met with support and intrigue.

Land Development Associates Vice President Lisa Cole, who helps guide new Apex tenants through the permitting process, said in October that she’s been able to push through infrastructure issues and slowly get some development going, but her group couldn’t ever fix Apex for the long haul.

Conversations among utility companies, the city, developers and landowners mark a big change, Cole said after Lee’s October announcement.

“The city is counting on Apex for (its) salvation, if you will, and everyone is working together with the city to make that happen,” Cole said. “You’ve got a really unique group who (is) all working together on the same goals.”

According to Wednesday’s agenda, if bringing water to Apex proves feasible, Ledcor Construction “will serve as a program manager during design and construction to insure the project is constructed in a quality and economical fashion.”

The agenda says the company was picked “based on their experience and track record in designing, constructing, operating and maintaining thousands of projects throughout North America. Further, Ledcor Construction Co. is currently working on potential development in the Apex Industrial Park and has completed a significant amount of exploration work for the Apex Water System Improvements.”

North Las Vegas has a projected $152 million shortfall, an economic outlook so dire the city at one point considered receivership, the state’s untested alternative to bankruptcy.

Lee has said Apex is crucial to digging the city out of its financial hole.

A study in the fall by Robert Lang, director of the UNLV Brookings Mountain West Institute, a partnership between UNLV and the Washington think tank, predicted developing Apex would bring in 57,960 direct jobs and a $670 million boost in state and local tax revenue.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @betsbarnes on Twitter.