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Eminent domain case tied to Project Neon settled

The state Board of Examiners has agreed to pay $25 million to Pierce Development and its investors for 7 acres near Interstate 15 and Charleston Boulevard, the first eminent domain settlement related to the massive Project Neon.

The confidential agreement announced this week was signed in February after three years of negotiations with the Nevada Department of Transportation, Pierce Development Chief Executive Officer Craig Katchen said.

“You know, they were trying to do their best for taxpayers,” he said. “It always gets down to location, location, location.”

Katchen said he’s not free to discuss specifics of the case such as how much he wanted for the land or the amount NDOT offered. He would not say whether he’s happy with the settlement, only that “we settled.”

Project Neon is a $1.5 billion, 20-year project to widen I-15 between the Spaghetti Bowl and Sahara Avenue. The improvements include more than 13 lane-miles of new bridges, a high-occupancy connector between U.S. Highway 95 and I-15 and access ramp at Wall Street, as well as improvements on Charleston Boulevard, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Grand Central Parkway.

Pierce’s land on Western Avenue and Wall Street, south of Holsum Lofts, was once identified as a site for a mixed-use project with two high-rise condo towers, office and retail, and later for a retirement facility. The land is now vacant.

The agreement gives Pierce the opportunity to look at other development projects in Las Vegas, said Katchen, who has been active in property development in Las Vegas since 2005.

“Downtown has held its value,” he said. “I’m very high on downtown and high on Nevada. It’s going to come roaring back.”

Las Vegas eminent domain attorney Kermitt Waters, who represented Pierce Development, said the settlement is important to dozens of other property owners in litigation over Project Neon.

“It puts them back in a position they would have been in early on,” he said. “It gives them the amount of money they would have been getting had they not had to sell their property.”

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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