Until this month, even wrecking crews looked to avoid North Las Vegas’ Buena Vista Springs apartment complex.
Little loved by neighbors and oft-maligned by community leaders, the long- abandoned complex at the corner of Carey Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard ducked the wrecking ball for the better part of a decade, most recently in May, when City Council members were forced to table demolition plans due to a lack of contractor interest.
City leaders revisited the fenced-off complex July 3, this time armed with a $2.6 million demolition bid from Las Vegas-based E & M Enterprises and a promise to raze the 2-acre site within 180 days of City Council approval.
The motion passed unanimously, to the audible relief of area resident and longtime redevelopment advocate Lydia Garrett.
“They said this day would never come, so I’m very excited,” Garrett told council members. “I’m so happy to see (Buena Vista Springs) demolished because it’s been a blight on our community for the past 25 or 30 years.
“All I ask is you talk to the residents before you consider what to put there. I don’t want to see any F Street disasters where we’d have to go back and do it all over again.”
The president of community advocacy group North Valley Leadership Team, Garrett has been a vocal critic of the complex almost from the time her husband helped build it in the 1970s.
Even then, she said, Buena Vista was plagued by bad management and middling oversight, eventually leaving the property riddled with squatters, gangs and an ever-worsening reputation for vandalism and crime.
That changed in 2007, when federal Housing and Urban Development officials cited numerous asbestos, mold and building code violations on their way to revoking Buena Vista owners’ right to house Section 8 government-subsidized tenants on the property.
City officials boarded up the site soon after, beginning what Garrett sees as a five-year holding pattern of crossed wires and missed connections leading to several failed foreclosure and demolition attempts that only served to steepen Buena Vista’s slide.
“You see it still sitting there every day, and you start to feel it’s never going to change,” she said. “It took a while, but this was a grass-roots effort and (Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown) did a really, really good job working with us on it.
“Our next step is to get something in there. We’ve talked about medical and job training facilities. We’re hoping to see a nice credit union or some nice restaurants, maybe even a farmers market.”
Goynes-Brown is also looking forward to Buena Vista’s future. The first-term city councilwoman frequently sits in on North Valley Leadership Team meetings and has long been counted as the group’s most outspoken advocate at City Hall.
Born and raised within blocks of Buena Vista Springs, Goynes-Brown offers a more personal take on the complex than some of her City Council peers.
“I just wanted to give back to my roots, so to speak,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming, so it’s nice to see it finally happening.
“I see it as a big victory for (neighborhood) residents, and I know they’ll be a part of the (redevelopment) process step for step.”
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839.