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Presidential prospects look grim, but good things are happening in Summerlin

There’s one way to clear your mind of such irritants as the political slander episode of the day. Just go out and enjoy the comforts of living in one of the most beautiful venues in the Southwest. While some seek relief from the most insidious crusade for president in our nation’s history, others use unprintable adjectives to characterize a political campaign that began a year or so ago and to the chagrin of some must continue for at least another six months.

But those of us who live in Summerlin are more fortunate than the norm, since our community is experiencing a renaissance of sorts that has helped lift our minds from the daily drudge of that horn of political cornucopia.

A case in point is Downtown Summerlin, which rose out of the desert to become not just a shopper’s delight — and one that continues to grow in its number of retail establishments — but a bastion of fulfillment for those seeking something more than just good dining and entertainment.

Another case in point is phase two of Downtown Summerlin, the 200 acres that sit just east of the retail, dining and entertainment center at Sahara Avenue and the 215 Beltway. New housing is already in the works on that site. It will eventually be joined by a resemblance to the urbanization of yesteryear, the small town shopping center — a throwback to the village bakery, the grocery store, butcher shop, candy store and, well, you get the idea.

And, to the gratification of those who live within reasonable proximity of Summerlin’s Village Center Circle, which is sometimes referred to as the Trails Village Center shopping center, an Albertsons grocery store now occupies the huge anchor facility that had lain dormant for so long. The supermarket, which has been redesigned, especially with cheerful new lighting, has helped rejuvenate a retail center consisting of many other establishments that had been slowly deteriorating due to the vacant superstore.

Now, if you’re really fed up with the game of political poison darts being tossed with little concern about where they land, then just think about those plans for a National Hockey League practice facility being considered for a site in Summerlin by billionaire businessman Bill Foley.

If the NHL decides to approve the expansion, which would allow Foley to acquire a franchise for Las Vegas, the team would play its regularly scheduled games at the new T-Mobile Arena on the Strip. However, discussions have been underway for Foley to build a state-of-the-art ice skating facility on a choice location owned by The Howard Hughes Corp.

The sizeable chunk of land being discussed is off Far Hills Avenue and the Beltway. If Foley obtains the expansion franchise, the facility would be built to coincide with the 2017-18 NHL season, which has been targeted as the starting date for a Las Vegas hockey team.

That brings us to the possibility of having another major sports facility in Summerlin, the much-discussed baseball stadium that has been mentioned frequently for location in phase two of Downtown Summerlin, a short distance from the highly popular Red Rock Resort. The stadium would become home to the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.

It’s no secret that the city would love nothing more than to have the 51s vacate Cashman Field. Last week, City Council voted to take back control of the 55-acre complex from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which has managed the site since the stadium was built in 1983. But the 51s have another seven years on their lease for a ballpark that has been characterized by Deputy City Manager Scott Adams as “an old, tired baseball stadium.” Meanwhile, the 51s ownership is in no hurry to build that new ballpark in Summerlin— unless somebody else is willing to help pay for it.

So there’s the rub. The 51s are owned by shrewd Summerlin people. In fact, half of the ownership is Hughes Corp. No argument there about the astuteness of that crowd. The other half is owned by a group of business and professional folks who can boast of equally clever DNA.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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