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Construction kicks off for UNLV’s $18-million parking garage

Construction begins this week for a seven-story garage near UNLV that will contain about 630 additional parking spaces for the school, boosting its capacity to house vehicles by 5 percent.

At a groundbreaking Tuesday for the so-called University Gateway project, private developer Frank Marretti said the building should be completed by early next year.

“This is a very exciting day for us, for UNLV and for the community,” said Marretti, whose real estate company G2CapCo is financing the $18 million project. “This is a well-needed amenity.”

The structure at Maryland Parkway and University Road also will include a new 10,000-square-foot home for the UNLV police department, which will be completed after crews finish building the parking spaces next year.

Under the deal, Marretti will finance the project’s construction and UNLV will repay him about $1.3 million annually for 20 years, after which the school will own the parking garage and the police station. Marretti said the structure will house a total of 813 parking spaces, with 610 reserved for UNLV permit holders and 16 allotted for the school’s police department. It will sit on a 2.2-acre parcel that also will be home to other businesses that will claim the remaining parking spots.

The project’s completion date was twice pushed back at Marretti’s request. In meeting documents submitted to the Nevada System of Higher Education, the university said investors requested the changes to “assist…in obtaining financing for the project.” When the project was initially approved by the NSHE Board of Regents in December 2014, the project was scheduled for completion by January 2016, but the date was pushed back six months during a subsequent discussion in June. It was delayed again at a final meeting in October, during which Marretti said the project would be finished by May 31, 2017.

Once the parking garage is complete, Marretti plans to build a second structure that will house retail tenants. He declined to say Tuesday how much he would invest in that building, which he expects to be between two and five stories tall. Marretti said his company is also considering adding residences to the building.

The University Gateway project is part of a yearslong push by UNLV officials to transform the commuter school and its surrounding neighborhood into a more inviting home for students. Last year, the university added 692 parking spaces by repainting lots and reclaiming spots leased to the Environmental Protection Agency. The additional spaces brought its parking capacity to 13,017.

“The way that these modern American public universities across the country are being successful and achieving their goals is through public/private partnerships,” UNLV President Len Jessup told a group of reporters, school administrators and state education officials who gathered for Tuesday’s event. “We need to do that here.”

Contact Ana Ley at aley@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find her on Twitter @la__ley

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