Trailblazing building: Government Center to mark 20 years

The Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway, turns 20 on June 3.

The building is generally regarded as one of the more successful and groundbreaking ones in the valley, which may be surprising considering the joking around before the building’s groundbreaking ceremony.

“The county was supposed to pay the city (of Las Vegas) $10 for the land,” said Clark County Museums administrator Mark Hall-Patton. “County Commissioner Jay Bingham came out the night before and buried a leather satchel with a $10 roll of quarters in it.”

At the ceremony, Bingham explained that it had been known for years that the site was going to be there and proved it by hauling the satchel out of the ground, breaking open the roll of quarters and handing then-Mayor Jan Jones the double fistful of coins. What he didn’t notice is that when he dropped the roll wrapper in the satchel, there were still two quarters inside.

“The county started the deal by shorting the city 50 cents,” Hall-Patton said.

The coins weren’t even a drop in the bucket of the $68 million price tag for the building, which has become an iconic landmark in a city known for its unusual buildings.

Many of the county services had been housed in the Bridger Building, 701 Bridger Ave., before the construction, but many other county offices were spread across the valley and hard to find, particularly for residents who had to visit county government services from the valley’s more rural areas.

The county had planned to consolidate services on a plot of land it owned outside of the city on county-operated land, but Jones campaigned to keep the city and county governments downtown, where the two entities could communicate more easily and get together for meetings. That led to the $10 deal to sell the county some of the property from the former Union Pacific Railroad switch yard.

“I flew back to Maryland, where the Union Pacific Railroad was headquartered, and negotiated with the CEO for the acreage,” said Jones, now Jan Jones Blackhurst, senior vice president of communications and government affairs with the Caesars Entertainment Corporation. “I told him I would help him with the master plan of the rest of the acreage, which would make it easier to sell.”

She was convinced that keeping the governments together was one of three things that were vital for the preservation of downtown. The other two were preserving the economic engine of the businesses already in place and a master plan for commercial, retail and museum spaces.

“Redevelopment is a long process,” Jones Blackhurst said. “You’ve got to put the template in place; you’ve got to preserve the economic base, the economic engine and the critical mass, and the rest will come.”

The call went out to architects for designs for the building. Many submitted work, but it was the design by Denver-based firm Fentress Architects that was chosen.

The requirements were basic: The building was essentially a large office with few special needs, and the design could go a number of ways.

“You can build anything,” Hall-Patton said at an April 10 tour of the facility. “You could build a box. At least one of the applicants did design a very nice box. (Curtis) Fentress came in and looked at the area and started thinking that it should reflect Clark County.”

The result was the rough red stone surface and the curves and spokes emanating from a central lobby that has since been reflected in structures from apartment complex common buildings to Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.

Hall-Patton’s tour was recorded by Channel 4 television cameras and is set to be edited into Clark County Television’s 20th anniversary special about the Government Center, scheduled to premiere at 8 p.m. June 19. It is scheduled to air numerous times during the month and then periodically after June. The programming schedule is at The channel is is available in the Las Vegas area on Channel 4 on Cox cable (Channel 89.13 for those without converter boxes) and on CenturyLink. It is also available online at

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email or call 702-380-4532.

Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like