In a city that seems to be perpetually under construction, it is perhaps no surprise that each year brings the completion of several projects and the start of several more. This year, many of those projects are government-related, ranging from nearly 4 miles of highway to a change involving the phone in your pocket.
FEDERAL JUSTICE TOWER
When the 11-story Federal Justice Tower broke ground on Nov. 21, 2011, the estimated project completion date was 2013. On March 27, the tower had its topping-out ceremony. Clark County officials are confident the project will be completed this year.
The building, on the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Clark Avenue, is set to be 140,000 square feet and house 300 employees from the executive and administrative offices at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, the Department of Labor, the Office of Inspector General and the Federal Protective Service.
The building is set to be the fourth federal facility within a two-block area of Las Vegas Boulevard, between Bonneville and Bridger avenues.
STRONG CITIES PROGRAM
In August, the city of Las Vegas accepted a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration as part of the national Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge. Las Vegas was one of three cities selected for the program.
The initiative offers financial prizes to foster new ideas from the public to develop a comprehensive economic vision in one of four categories: Cashman Field, the Medical District, business parks and existing Redevelopment Agency projects. The majority of the grant, $900,000, is slated for prize money. Winners of the first round of proposals are set to receive $10,000 for third place, $30,000 for second place and $60,000 for first place.
“There may be more ideas that make it through the first round,” said Melissa Warren, a managing partner with Faiss Foley Warren Public Relations & Government Affairs, the firm handling media relations for the project. “The city retains ownership of all the ideas submitted. After the first round, they’ll have to submit a much more detailed proposal, and the grand prize winner will be chosen from that.”
The grand prize for the project is $800,000.
The grant requires that the city provide $250,000 to fund infrastructure and planning efforts to implement the winning idea. That money will not be provided by the grant.
The Las Vegas City Council is determining guidelines and submission methods for the project. A website with that information is expected to be up in January.
A renovation of Main Street between Stewart Avenue and Charleston Boulevard is planned for 2014.
“The city is planning on widening the sidewalks and adding trees like it has with a lot of the streets downtown,” said Jace Radke, spokesman for the city of Las Vegas. “The idea is to make the streets more walkable.”
A similar project is in the works for First Street that would widen the sidewalks and add trees and artistic touches between Carson and Boulder avenues. The First Street Art Walk is set to connect the Fremont Street Experience area to the 18b Arts District.
F STREET REVIVAL
A symbolic reopening ceremony took place Sept. 17, but reconnecting West Las Vegas to downtown via F Street continues.
The road was closed in 2008 as part of a project to widen U.S. Highway 95. Residents of the neighborhood organized and protested the closure. The Nevada Legislature took notice and passed a law that required the city of Las Vegas and the state to cooperate and fund steps for the approval, design and construction of the project to reopen F Street.
The Nevada Department of Transportation estimates the project will be completed this year.
Project Neon, designed in part to untangle the Spaghetti Bowl, will remain in the planning stages this year. No major construction is planned for the Interstate 15/U.S. Highway 95 interchange this year.
The 3.7-mile transportation improvements project, along Interstate 15 from the Sahara Avenue interchange to the U.S. Highway 95/Interstate 515 interchange in downtown Las Vegas, is set to get to the blueprint stage in 2015. More information and preliminary drawings and designs are available at ndotprojectneon.com.
Other road projects set to begin this year in the Paradise/downtown area include reconstruction and improvements on Convention Center Drive, pavement rehabilitation and widening of Spencer Street between Warm Springs Road and Windmill Lane and pavement rehabilitation on Harmon and Twain Avenues. Phase two of the airport connector interchange, a project that includes a southbound ramp connecting McCarran International Airport to Warm Springs Road, is also set to begin construction.
The fate of plans for a downtown arena is set to be decided this month.
“We’re in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Cordish Companies out of Baltimore,” said Radke. “The agreement lapses at the end of January, so we can expect to see something happen one way or the other by then.”
NEW AREA CODE
Due to a combination of growth and cellphones, Southern Nevada’s long-standing 702 area code is set to share the region with the new 725 prefix.
A nine-month transition period began Aug. 3, in which seven- and 10-digit numbers can be used t for local calls. On May 3, 10-digit dialing will be mandatory and on June 3, the new 725 area code is set to debut.
For more information, visit dial10digits.org.
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4532.