City hall by any name still smells, foes declare

A casual observer looking at Wednesday's Las Vegas City Council agenda could be forgiven for missing an item on the proposal for a new city hall.

It's next to last on the agenda, and it refers only to a 303,000-square-foot office building that a developer named Forest City wants to build on the northwest corner of First Street and Clark Avenue.

One would have to venture into the architect's documents to find the words "city hall."

That's nothing nefarious, city spokesman Jace Radke said. It's just the bureaucrat-speak used on planning agendas.

"It's referred to as an office building because that is the building type, and planning references these types of items by building type, not project name," Radke explained.

The city hall agenda item does follow the typical format, spelling out the owner and applicant and describing the project.

The Las Vegas City Council is scheduled to deal with the new city hall proposal twice at its regular Wednesday meeting.

A signature drive spearheaded by the Culinary union in protest of the project must be completed by next Friday.

The council will review the site plan for the seven-story building. In a separate item, council members will give notice that the building is to be financed with a lease-purchase agreement, in which bonds that finance the project would be repaid by lease payments made by the city.

The lease-purchase aspect is what drew the ire of the Culinary Local 226, which mounted a petition drive to force a vote on proceeding with a new city hall. Union leaders have described the approach as a loophole that allows the city to proceed without seeking voter approval.

Supporters also hope to put a measure before voters that would challenge Las Vegas' entire downtown redevelopment plan.

"We're confident we're going to get the signatures," said Chris Bohner, the union's research director. "We've been out all through the community, and we're getting a really great response. This, we hope, will be on the ballot."

He wouldn't say how many signatures have been gathered so far.

City leaders have pegged the construction cost for the new city hall at $150 million, but have put a ceiling of $267 million on the financing for the project to account for cost increases and delays.

The union has seized on that higher number to decry the project as wasteful at a time when public entities statewide are struggling to keep budgets from going into the red.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at or 702-229-6435.