Bidding starts at $10 million for old Clark County Courthouse

The old Clark County courthouse is a lonely place.

The seven-story landmark was shuttered in 2005 when the new Regional Justice Center opened.

Since then, only county maintenance workers and the occasional vagrant have been seen there.

Now the 315,180-square-foot building at 200 S. Third St. in downtown Las Vegas is up for sale. Based on an appraisal, the bidding is starting at $10 million.

Situated on a 2.76-acre lot, the location near the Fremont Street Experience is a bigger drawing point than the building itself. Indeed, the old courthouse, which opened in 1960, could end up being razed by a buyer to make way for a new development, said Jerry Stueve, director of the county’s Department of Real Property Management.

By selling the building, the county can help with redevelopment efforts in downtown, Stueve said. The sale also will end the county’s $140,000-a-year cost of maintaining the courthouse, which includes utilities and security.

“It is strictly as is,” Stueve said of the condition of the property for the sale.

Nearly eight years after it was shuttered, the building still shows signs of its history. Courtrooms still have folding, auditorium-style chairs, and the judge and jury seating areas still remain. Office cubicles are empty. That furniture will still be around for the new buyer.

There’s still a holding cell, complete with bars on the door.

Signs still point to courtrooms and the empty county clerk’s work area.

“There’s a lot of places to hide in here,” said Mark Larson, facilities assistant manager for the property department.

Over the years, the large, empty building has lured homeless people and vandals. At times, the county has called in the Metropolitan Police Department to sniff out vagrants with a K-9 unit.

Those problems have subsided in the past couple of years, Stueve said.

Signs of wear remain. Ceiling tiles sag. Here and there, the brown carpeting is stained and worn.

Most of the damage is cosmetic, though.

But any renovation would have to be extensive, due to new building code requirements, Stueve said.

“The building’s not really laid out for a lot of good uses,” he said.

Interest is high and the county has already received inquiries from interested parties, he said. The full level of interest will be visible on Oct. 1, when the county opens bids and accepts verbal bids in a public auction.

The location has long been the spot for the justice system. In 1905, Union Pacific Railroad — at the time called the Las Vegas Land and Water Company — tapped the land for a courthouse and jail site. The first courthouse opened there in July 1909, according to the county. A larger courthouse was built there in 1914. From there, the third and final courthouse on the land opened in 1960.

Written bids of $10 million or higher can be given at the purchasing desk of the property department, on the fourth floor of the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, until 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1. At 10 a.m. Oct. 1, the county will conduct a live public auction at the County Commission meeting.

Those who didn’t submit written bids can make verbal bids at that time. Bidders who have given written bids can verbally go higher at the time.

The money from the sale will go to the county’s general fund.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781.

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