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135-acre Helios medical campus breaks ground in North Las Vegas

Officials broke out the ceremonial shovels Tuesday morning at a groundbreaking for a 135-acre medical campus in North Las Vegas — a project expected to bring in thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in the next decade.

The mixed-use medical campus, Helios, will put a hospital, research space, office buildings and retail into one area that officials say can help the community and the economy of North Las Vegas. The massive project is located at the corner of North Pecos Road and Rome Boulevard, across the street from the VA Medical Center.

Mayor John Lee said the development would be transformative for the city’s reputation of just having houses.

“This obviously could have been houses and apartments, we would have been continuing to be a bedroom community,” Lee said. “But we are no longer a bedroom community. We are an economic driver in this valley, and we’re going to continue that for the next 20 years.”

It’s been a priority for the city of North Las Vegas to jump-start development on the 135-acre site, land it received through an act of Congress in 2014. The city began taking bids in May 2021 and sold the land to Salt Lake City-based developer Pacific Group earlier this year for nearly $37 million.

Pacific Group Chief Financial Officer Tony Sansone said Helios will take an estimated 10 years to build out with construction costs estimated to be nearly $5 billion.

Once complete, it would add more than 10,000 jobs for North Las Vegas and $3.2 billion annually to the economy from both output and labor, according to Sansone.

Pacific Group noted that 30 acres will be set aside for hospital development and 20 acres for a grocery store, while 50 acres are up for sale.

The project also includes 1.3 million square feet of medical office space, 900,000 square feet of research and development space, 250,000 square feet of retail space as well as restaurant space and a 290-room hotel. Sansone said the company wants to see gyms, banks, child care facilities and other community resources at the site as well.

Creating a medical hub

Helios will be anchored by a hospital with more than 600 beds, though Sansone said the company is still looking for a partner to occupy the space. It hopes to identify a hospital partner next year as well as additional businesses for the other properties. Sansone said it plans to have some of the construction on its retail and office buildings complete in 2024.

Helios is not the only medical campus popping up in Southern Nevada. In August, the Las Vegas City Council voted to enter into talks to redevelop the 50-acre Cashman Center into a medical campus. There’s also an ambitious plan to expand the Las Vegas Medical District to 684-acres, which comprises University Medical Center and the soon-to-be completed Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV.

These mixed-use medical districts are becoming more common because hospitals and health care companies want amenities to offer their employees and to be near other companies that they refer patients to, said Vance Farrow, health care industry specialist at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

“You get a big anchor tenant like a hospital, and then maybe you bring in a long-term care facility or something that shortens the supply chain of that hospital or creates referrals,” Farrow said. “It creates a sort of symbiotic system of health care delivery.”

But, Farrow said, hiring enough health care workers has been a challenge, especially for fast-growing communities.

Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked North Las Vegas fifth on the list of cities with the greatest population increase since 2020.

Projects such as Helios are vital for attracting health care workers, said Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown.

“We simply do not have the resources in Southern Nevada that we need for our community to serve our families,” she said.

Farrow added that expanding health care businesses in the state has a “trickle down effect” for the rest of the economy since companies consider health care options when deciding to expand or move their operations.

“There’s so many indirect dominoes that support the community when you inject thousands of high-paying individuals into it. It’s just a magnet for economic development,” Farrow said.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on Twitter.

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