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TSA, airlines oppose planned Las Vegas resort near McCarran airport

Citing security concerns, the Transportation Security Administration and multiple airlines are objecting to plans for a proposed resort neighboring McCarran International Airport that would stand 237 feet tall.

The proposed $300 million Dream Las Vegas resort applied to Clark County for a waiver so its planned 454-room resort could exceed the 100-foot standard height for buildings in the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s study of the project’s aeronautical impacts determined the proposed height would not pose a hazard to aircraft or interfere with navigation systems as presented.

“It’s important to note the FAA’s determination is not an ‘approval’ of the project because the FAA does not have regulatory authority over local building and land-use decisions,” the agency said in a statement.

But the TSA cited multiple security concerns regarding the proposed hotel’s proximity to McCarran, including the potential threat of active shooters in the hotel, improvised explosive devices in vehicles and people throwing objects over the airport’s fence.

The Clark County Planning Commission’s staff is recommending the request be denied at the commission’s meeting next month, citing concerns raised by the TSA and aviation industry partners. Staff also noted the hotel would be the tallest building among the abutting properties and thus would be out of character.

The Clark County Commission, which will have the final say on the matter, was scheduled to hear the request at its April 21 meeting. However, the item has been pushed back a month to allow Dream Hotels to work with stakeholders on a possible solution, according to Nancy Amundsen, Clark County director of comprehensive planning.

Five-acre plot

The proposed resort would sit on five acres of land on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard just south of Russell Road and next to the Harley Davidson dealership.

Shopoff Realty Investments and developer David Daneshforooz paired up to purchase the land for $21 million last year. Initial plans were to break ground on the project this year, with completion planned for early 2023.

Despite the concerns from the aviation industry, the developers noted the FAA’s finding of no impact to flight activity in the area.

“We — the owner and developer of Dream Hotel — submitted plans to the FAA and in November, 2019, the FAA issued an approved height determination of up to 244 feet,” a statement from Dream Hotel read. “Our plans submitted to Clark County requested a building height of up to 237 feet. We are continuing to work with McCarran airport and other agencies on the design and operations of the proposed resort-hotel.”

In its objection, the TSA pointed out open areas on the resort’s third floor where a pool is planned and the ninth floor where a day club would be located that would provide a direct line of sight for laser flashing and long gun attacks against aircraft.

Dream Las Vegas’ proposed height, with guest rooms facing McCarran could also provide a direct line of sight to passenger terminal areas, commercial and general aviation aircraft operations and aviation fuel tanks, the TSA said.

The TSA said the security risks would increase the possibility of damage to aircraft and infrastructure from a long gun and also raise the potential for injury or death to passengers, aircrew, ground personnel and other airport workers.

Additionally, the TSA noted the hotel’s location is adjacent to the west side perimeter fence where an aircraft parking ramp is used for high-level individuals including government officials and professional sports teams.

Airline objections

Aside from the TSA, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and the Allied Pilots Association and Air Line Pilots Association also filed objections to the planned hotel’s height.

Those letters shared concerns of light-related issues, unauthorized drone flights, impacts to future growth and operations at McCarran and possible flight path interruptions tied to Dream and other potential projects in the same vicinity.

“As one of the busiest airports in the United States, anything that curtails airport capacity should be carefully evaluated as it will not only impact the future growth of the airport, but the ability to recover from the pandemic,” Amira Trebincevic, regional director of corporate real estate for Delta, wrote.

Planning commission staff also raised a request from the resort to reduce the setback from Las Vegas Boulevard to 23 feet from the required minimum of 68 feet as a possible issue. The staff noted that could interfere with possible future widening of the Strip.

The developer is hopeful that a compromise can be reached as the project could provide a large number of jobs in the coming years if it gets the green light to move forward.

“If approved, Dream Hotel will provide 1,200 construction jobs and 750 permanent jobs in Las Vegas,” the group said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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