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.

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like