Las Vegas council OKs downtown deal with Cleveland Clinic

An agreement giving the Cleveland Clinic time to plan a possible new medical center or research facility in downtown Las Vegas received unanimous approval from the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday.

“I was told not to engage in too much enthusiasm,” Mayor Oscar Goodman said before launching into a list of rankings showing the Cleveland Clinic is frequently listed as one of the best hospitals in America. “But I want the public to understand with whom we’re dealing.”

Other council members were similarly excited, although it hasn’t been determined yet exactly what kind of center the Ohio-based nonprofit organization might build.

Councilman Ricki Barlow said a constituent questioned part of the deal that has the city donating two of the four parcels being considered as an incentive for the clinic. He said he countered that having a well-known entity like the Cleveland Clinic in Las Vegas is worth it.

“We’re actually receiving something far greater than the small donation of land downtown,” Barlow said.

Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese spoke briefly about the unease some existing health care providers feel about having a new competitor in the market, saying he hopes “the medical community understands what we’re trying to do.”

“We’re not trying to hurt. We’re trying to help,” Reese said. “We want to make things better.”

Earlier this year, the Cleveland Clinic agreed to staff and run what’s now known as the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which is in Symphony Park.

Now the clinic will conduct a market study on what it could build on parcels adjacent to the brain center.

Several years ago, the clinic looked at building a large medical center that would have taken up almost half of the 61-acre site that’s now being redeveloped into an urban center anchored by a performing arts center.

The new potential project would be much smaller than that plan, since the four parcels offered total about 12 acres without subtracting space for sidewalks, roads and landscaping.

Under the agreement, the two other parcels could be sold or also donated.

The pact also calls for the clinic to present a development plan for the parcels by the end of January.

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