LVCVA to buy north Las Vegas Strip land for almost $50M

Las Vegas’ tourism agency plans to buy and bulldoze a run-down retail center and a decades-old apartment complex off the north Strip.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s board of directors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to purchase Somerset Shopping Center, the Somerset Gardens apartment complex next door, and two nearby vacant lots for $49.8 million.

The properties, spanning 8.3 acres total, are on or just off Convention Center Drive and a short walk from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The LVCVA, which plans to expand and renovate the Convention Center in a $1.4 billion overhaul, would demolish the shopping center and apartments “as soon as possible,” agency documents show. It intends to use the area for parking and outdoor exhibit space.

If approved, the purchase would lead to the forced relocation of dozens of apartment tenants and spell the end of a beat-up, 1960s-era shopping center that is mostly vacant.

It’s also at least the second time the agency has tried to buy the real estate. (Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The properties are primarily owned by members of the Kishner family “and their business associates,” the LVCVA documents say.

Developer Irwin Kishner died last year at age 84. His daughters, Sharon Kishner and District Judge Joanna Kishner, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Monday. Las Vegas attorney Tina Walls, who is listed as a contact for the sellers, also did not return a call seeking comment.

Hudson dry cleaners and Truly Spa are the only tenants at Somerset Shopping Center, 252 Convention Center Drive. The areas behind vacant storefronts are in disrepair, and a missing window is covered with plywood.

Hudson owner Tesfaye Armide said Monday that he hadn’t heard about the LVCVA sale but added that as a small-business owner, “sometimes you can’t do anything.”

His customers include casinos, local residents and, he said, the Convention Center.

As part of Tuesday’s vote, the board also would decide whether to spend up to $1 million for transaction costs, tenant relocation, apartment management, litigation expenses and testing.

LVCVA documents indicate that the 120-unit Somerset Gardens complex has about 80 tenants, the majority of whom are subject to a 90-day cancellation clause. Plans call for the agency to hire a private company “to provide relocation services and payment pursuant to state and federal law,” according to the documents.

The sale also calls for the agency to be responsible for all costs related to “the PCE contamination” coming from the retail property, with remediation costs expected to be around $3 million over the next 10 years.

Asked about the PCE and the demolition plans, LVCVA spokeswoman Maria Phelan said the agency doesn’t comment on items coming up for a vote “before the meeting has taken place.”

Irwin Kishner developed these and other properties with his uncle Herman Kishner, and the sales contract says the LVCVA would name a conference room after them in the expanded Convention Center.

Sharon Kishner told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last September — after her father died — that the retail plaza used to be “completely full.” Joanna Kishner said it was “a vibrant part of the community” with a pizza parlor, a grocery and a tavern.

The LVCVA tried to buy neighboring property in 2014, but the sale fell through because it wanted Kishner’s real estate as well but couldn’t reach a deal with him, a person familiar with the matter said last year.

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

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