Family, TV show go to extremes for new home

Once upon a Friday morning, there waited a blue sedan in the driveway of a tan house in a tan neighborhood in the northwest corner of Las Vegas.

It waited and waited and waited as an SUV drove slowly by. A guy in a hard-hat walked past; a woman with a T-shirt that said “media” on the back parked in front of the house across the street.

Carefully, the sedan backed away, executed a three-point turn and headed west, its delay brief.

The sun was rising then, just after 7 a.m., and a giant crane one street over began to cast a shadow on the neighborhood.

The beep-beep-beep of a front-loader drifted from around the corner.

Children walked to school. Newspapers sat unread on front steps. Trash cans awaited unloading.

“Bang!” came a noise.

“Rumble!” said a dump truck.

“Whoa!” barked a security guard.

Welcome to our town, Hollywood.

The TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” rumbled into Las Vegas a few days ago and took over a neighborhood at the northeast corner of U.S. 95 and Ann Road.

Streets are blocked off.

Shuttle buses roam the roads.

Hundreds upon hundreds of workers and volunteers spend all day there, in the neighborhood, where regular folks are going about their daily lives.

The goal is to tear down and build anew the house of a local family: Terri, Chuck, Molly and Maggie Cerda.

But first, there were the required permits. The required street closings. The required massive logistical challenges.

Jace Radke, a spokesman for the city of Las Vegas, said show officials first approached the city back in January.

The Cerda family was one of five finalists, and producers wanted the city’s help in fast-tracking the process.

There was a follow-up meeting in February, at which the process was laid out for city officials.

He said many city staffers, especially those in the building department, have donated their time to help the TV show accomplish its goals.

“They’re not out there on city time,” he said.

He also said the show’s crew will be spending money while here, an estimated $60,000 to $75,000 a day on such things as hotel rooms, gasoline and renting a bus.

The show is also paying the Police Department for special events coverage.

Radke also pointed out that the show brings a good amount of publicity to the city.

The family was notified Tuesday, via a surprise knock on the door from star Ty Pennington, as is traditional. They were flown off to Hawaii while their house is replaced.

The new house will be unveiled Tuesday.

Work began Thursday, when the house was ripped down by large machinery.

A new foundation was laid by Friday morning.

LeeAnn Thornton, a public relations rep working with the show, said producers have been doing this for six seasons now, so they’re pretty good at getting things done quickly.

She said they’re also accustomed to working with neighbors, despite the inconvenience.

For most, that’s all it is: an inconvenience.

“It’s not as much trouble as I thought it would be,” said Rafael Jimenez, who lives about four or five houses down from the construction site at 5760 Royal Castle Lane.

He said show representatives came by earlier in the week and told neighbors what would be happening.

There would be noise, as the construction process is a 24/7 operation, going on all weekend.

There would be parking issues, as the whole neighborhood is subject to road closure signs and Royal Castle, in particular, is shut down for a hundred yards or so.

Asked whether any neighbors asked that the show put them up in a hotel for their trouble, Thornton could not provide a specific answer.

But it’s no big deal, Jimenez and several other neighbors said.

“I can sleep through anything,” joked Randy Ortiz, who lives just behind the construction site.

The booming was so loud that Ortiz had to speak up when chatting with a reporter at his front door. He did not seem to mind.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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