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Developer of futuristic Las Vegas project faces fraud charges in Florida

Heavy on buzzwords and complete with a flashy rendering, the news release promised a futuristic mini-city in Southern Nevada.

Bleutech Park Las Vegas would feature environmentally friendly net-zero buildings, augmented reality, supertrees and self-healing concrete structures. The “digital infrastructure city” would also cost more than $7.5 billion, but the lengthy announcement this summer left out some key details: where it would be built and who was behind it.

The developer is a Miami woman who was arrested in 2017 in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud a South Florida city.

Janet Garcia-Legrand, who is set to go on trial in Florida next month, confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday that she is the CEO of project developer Bleutech Park Properties.

Her project calls for housing, offices, retail and entertainment as well as “waste-heat recovery,” buildings with “breathable materials” and other tech-heavy features. It is the most expensive and complex development proposed in Las Vegas in recent memory and has boasted of the involvement of several companies, including tech giant Cisco Systems.

But it faces plenty of questions. Not only does the developer face criminal allegations outside Nevada, but Bleutech Park also remains shrouded in mystery in some key ways.

“I think it’s a great project if there’s any legitimacy to it,” said CBRE Group broker Michael Parks, a hotel-casino specialist.

No site, mystery investors

The 48-year-old Garcia-Legrand, whose involvement was not disclosed in the project’s press releases in July and September, has not unveiled a project site or, as of Wednesday, filed plans with Clark County. She also declined to identify her investors to the Review-Journal or say how much money she has on hand for the project.

“That’s irrelevant,” she said of her funding.

If built, Bleutech Park would pump billions of dollars into the valley and usher in a burst of smart-city technology. But the enormous project sounds all too familiar in Las Vegas, a place with a long track record of developers pitching massive, often over-the-top ideas and never following through.

Land Advisors Organization broker Rick Hildreth said that when he first saw the Bleutech announcement, it reminded him of the $5 billion moon-themed casino that was proposed in the early 2000s and never built.

“We see a lot of those,” he said.

Garcia-Legrand said she picked Las Vegas in part because a “sustainable” development needs “lots of sun.” She hopes to start grading the still-unknown project site in January.

She said that when someone sets out to build a first-of-its-kind project, people will argue that it can’t be done. But she added: “They thought the same thing about, you know, going to the moon, and we’ve been there, done that.”

She said her name wasn’t mentioned in the initial news release because she has no desire for the “red carpet” and there’s no need to highlight her.

“I have no desire for that,” she said. “It is all about the project.”

‘I will be vindicated’

In 2017, police in South Florida accused Garcia-Legrand, whose name is also given in court records as Janet Legrand and Janet Garcia, of creating an “elaborate facade” to make a firm called Bleu Network appear as a reputable company and attempting to defraud the city of Homestead in 2016.

Garcia-Legrand submitted a proposal for a downtown Homestead multi-use development, records show. According to police records, the city had said it would provide more than $33 million for the project.

During a review of the proposal, Homestead police discovered numerous “misrepresentations and falsehoods,” according to her arrest warrant. Among the falsehoods were Garcia-Legrand’s claims that she was a licensed civil engineer in Florida and an engineering graduate of the University of Miami, according to police. Bleu Network also claimed to have offices in Madrid, Montreal and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and on Brickell Avenue in Miami. None of those offices exist, police wrote.

Garcia-Legrand claimed that she had financial partners who were involved in the nearly $950 million Port of Miami tunnel project. Police said that is also untrue.

“Obviously, I can’t go into the Florida situation,” Garcia-Legrand said Wednesday, adding that she’s “very confident that (she) will be vindicated.”

Police say Garcia-Legrand failed in the Homestead proposal to disclose civil and criminal litigation, including a 1996 ruling in which she was given probation for a “worthless check crime.”

She also failed to disclose that more than a dozen people had filed wage complaints against Bleu Network, police said.

After Bleu Network ranked third of the three proposals for the Homestead project, Garcia-Legrand filed a complaint against the city claiming that the process had been done improperly, and she later sued the city over the same allegation.

In April 2017, weeks before the lawsuit was filed, her lawyer told city officials she would drop the claims in exchange for a payment of $155,000 to cover legal and other expenses, according to her arrest warrant.

The lawyer told city attorneys that the financial proposal stemmed “from a new opportunity presented to her. She would need to move on that new project by (the following) week.”

He did not specify the venture.

‘Wildly ambitious’

Las Vegas has several other billion-dollar projects underway or in the pipeline, but they are backed by well-known organizations, and there was never a mystery over who is building them.

In Bleutech Park’s initial press release, the only member of the development team named was “CTIO” Bertrand Dano, whose title was given only as an acronym. The release also didn’t cite any projects the developer had previously built.

Mike Mixer, executive managing director of brokerage firm Colliers International’s Las Vegas office, said the project, from what he’s learned, is “wildly ambitious.”

“It is hard to see a profitable outcome based on the limited scope presented thus far,” he said in an email.

Hildreth, of Land Advisors Organization, said that he thinks Bleutech Park would be a “very cool project” and that it doesn’t seem “too crazy.”

“I hope it happens,” he said.

American West Homes founder Larry Canarelli confirmed on Thursday that he has spoken with Garcia-Legrand about selling her land at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Cactus Avenue, south of the Strip. He owns about 150 acres there.

He said the project is a “spectacular idea” but couldn’t say whether it can get built. Nonetheless, he would love to help make an idea like this a reality, he said.

‘A place where we do things right’

Tommy White, business manager and secretary-treasurer of Laborers Local 872, was quoted in the July news release for Bleutech Park.

Las Vegas projects (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas projects (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“This is going to be a project unlike any other, and it is great to see Las Vegas step to the forefront,” he said.

He told the Review-Journal he was unaware of Garcia-Legrand’s past until Wednesday but is sticking by her while her case moves through court.

He expressed some skepticism about the criminal charges during a Thursday interview with the Review-Journal. White said he hopes she will be vindicated, but if she’s not, the laborers union will back out.

The project drew enthusiasm from Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft at an Aug. 28 news conference about Bleutech Park.

“I think this is a moment that we’ll look fondly on a few years from now as we break ground and open up this exciting Bleutech community and this park,” Naft said, adding that the world would once again view Nevada as “a place where we do things right.”

Naft said Friday that he is generally enthusiastic about economic development opportunities in the county. He was unaware of Garcia-Legrand’s past when they met last month but learned of her background weeks later, he said.

Asked about his thoughts on Garcia-Legrand trying to move Bleutech Park forward, Naft said: “I don’t think she’s the best spokesperson for a company.”

Lobbyist George Garcia said he was aware of Garcia-Legrand’s criminal allegations early on. He has been working with her for about a year, but the work ramped up over the past six months, he said.

At first, he said, the charges were concerning.

“The early part of the process was gaining that greater degree of confidence,” he said.

Even if Garcia-Legrand is convicted, the project will move forward, he said.

Cisco ‘investigating further’

Bleutech Park’s news releases have listed several companies as being involved in the project, including Las Vegas contractor Martin-Harris Construction and San Jose, California-based Cisco.

Mike Grigsby, who works in sales at Cisco, was quoted in the initial announcement as saying in part: “We look forward to playing an integral role in this groundbreaking initiative, which will … bring together technology solutions that once seemed like pure science fiction.”

Grigsby also delivered a talk at the August news conference about Bleutech Park, which was held at Martin-Harris’ offices.

Cisco said in a statement Friday that it has “no contract to provide products or services” to the project.

“From what we are able to determine, the use of Cisco’s name in communications materials was not authorized,” the company said. “We are investigating further the matters reported by the media.”

Bleutech Park spokesman Tom Letizia responded Friday that the project has had an interim agreement with Cisco since April for technical support and consultation.

Guy Martin, president of Martin-Harris, declined to comment on Garcia-Legrand’s involvement.

“Martin-Harris Construction is interested in the project more than the people,” he told the Review-Journal. “And we hope that the project moves forward and is a success.”

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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