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Developer’s plans for massive extreme sports attraction dashed

Standing before the Clark County Commission this month, Josh Kearney asked for more time on his stalled extreme-sports-park venture.

His funding was frozen in March, he said, adding that his backers “clearly got scared” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The commissioners, however, shot him down.

“Not all things can be blamed on COVID-19, and I think this is one of those cases,” Commissioner Michael Naft replied.

County commissioners on Sept. 2 denied Kearney’s request for an extension of the approvals on his planned $800 million attraction south of the Strip. Before the vote, Naft noted that Kearney’s engineer had indicated that the original proposal needed “significant and massive changes.”

The vote effectively renders Kearney’s project plans dead, and he would have to file a new application if he wants to build a major project there, said Nancy Amundsen, director of the county’s comprehensive planning department.

Kearney’s 130-acre project, the Edge, would have been an enormous, high-octane tourist attraction.

It was supposed to feature wakeboarding and surfing lakes, water slides, dunk tank towers, an indoor mountain biking track, rock climbing, bungee jumping, zip lines and a 15-story hotel-casino, records show.

It also wasn’t a stretch to question whether it would ever get built.

Big price

Plans like Kearney’s are all too familiar in Las Vegas, where developers have a long history of drawing up grandiose proposals and never following through.

Kearney had pitched an extreme sports park concept in Las Vegas since at least 2013. Its size grew, having started at 40 acres, and though he obtained county approvals, it seems he never built anything. He also was sued at least twice over the project.

He did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Kearney, an Australia native, told me in early 2017 that his “every passion, every intention” was to build the massive venue and that he didn’t need financing. At the time, he said the project would cost probably $800 million.

It was penciled for the southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard South and Sunset Road, across from retail-and-office complex Town Square Las Vegas. County commissioners approved project plans in September 2017.

Kearney, however, had already been sued over the venture, and he was about to face another lawsuit.

‘A bad investment’

Rose Vasilj had met Kearney through the dating and networking site Bumble.com and agreed to loan him $500,000 for the project. She sued him in June 2017, alleging that the loan had “not been repaid as agreed.”

She claimed that Kearney “repeatedly made misrepresentations” about the project, including its status and value, and about his education, experience, background and wealth.

A judge awarded her $650,000 in early 2018, and she had received $80,000 by spring 2019, court records show.

Vasilj, a Southern California real estate agent, told me Friday that Kearney hasn’t paid more than what court documents show and that she has “kind of moved on” with her life.

“I’ve made peace with a bad investment,” she said.

Meanwhile, KGA Architecture sued Kearney in December 2017, alleging that he had agreed to pay the firm $1.5 million to work on the project. According to the complaint, he failed to comply with the terms of their contract and owed more than $881,000.

In fall 2019, a judge awarded KGA nearly $1.2 million in damages in the case, court records show.

KGA chief executive Jim Lord could not be reached for comment Friday.

It’s always possible that Kearney resurrects plans for the Edge or something like it. Naft, whose district includes the site, told me the property is “prime for development.”

But for now, Kearney’s project, like countless others over the years, is dead on the drawing board.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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