$18-million parking garage approved for UNLV

Talk with enough University of Nevada, Las Vegas students and they will have some choice words to describe the parking situation on the 340-acre campus.

Freshman Julia Gomez is tame compared to some.

“It’s horrible,” said the 18-year-old student who has not declared a major yet.

Relief may be just a year away.

The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents on Friday approved a public-private partnership between a land developer and UNLV to build a 610-space parking garage and a new home for the UNLV police department by January 2016.

Developer Frank Marretti will finance the construction of the $18-million project and UNLV will repay him to the tune of $1.3 million annually for 20 years — after which UNLV will own the parking lot and the police station.

The 2.2-acre parcel is located east of Maryland Parkway across the street from Greenspun Hall.

The parcel will also be home to other businesses. Marretti said he has commitments from Wells Fargo, a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise and others he was not ready to name publicly.

Construction is supposed to start in early 2015 and wrap up by January 2016, said Gerry Bomotti, UNLV’s senior vice president of finance and business.

Marretti’s company G2CapCo bought the property about a year ago for $3 million and accepted an offer from UNLV to work with the university to build a parking lot.

The Regents unanimously approved the partnership in a vote on Friday.

Regent Allison Stephens, who graduated from UNLV, said parking has always been an issue. Since UNLV is still considered a commuter campus, it’s hard to serve the community without adequate parking, Stephens said.

Gomez said it’s difficult as a student and full-time worker at a retail store to have the time to search for parking or park in distant lots.

She said she sometimes has to risk citations and park in spaces at strip malls east of Maryland Parkway. That’s resulted in two $75 citations so far this semester. Those citations have caused her to worry that after class she might find her car has been towed.

“It’d be great. It’d be very convenient,” Gomez said of the plan.

She also noted that there are a lot more than 610 students frustrated with campus parking.

“To me, it’s a good start,” she said.

Not everyone was thrilled with the expenditure.

Sophomore Juan Vasquez, 19, who is studying music performance — he plays the trombone — and computer science, said he’d like to see the money spent on other things on campus.

Vasquez parks at a lot off of Cottage Grove Avenue and said he doesn’t have trouble finding spaces because he arrives early for his 8 a.m. classes or marching band rehearsals.

Vasquez said he’s heard his friends complain of searching for spots for up to 30 minutes, but he felt that could be solved by arriving earlier to beat the rush.

“I don’t think a parking lot is really necessary,” Vasquez said.

The new UNLV police station will be located on the same parcel as the parking lot. The new, permanent station will be about 10,000 square feet or about 2,500 square feet larger than the current location.

The Board of Regents also passed a $1 facility fee increase for tickets to events at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center for ongoing improvements to the aging home of the Rebels.

The fee will be added to all tickets for Thomas & Mack events starting in July to help fund the ongoing $70 million rehabilitation of the 31-year-old arena.

Regents also approved refinancing some of the center’s existing debt for another $13 million.

The $70 million will include about $500,000 annually in profits from the $1 fee, the refinancing, about $50 million from the state slot tax bond fund, some cash on hand from events such as the National Finals Rodeo, and $4 million or $5 million from as yet unnamed donors.

Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe

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