Las Vegas council votes to build new city hall

On a series of near-unanimous votes today, Las Vegas City Council members approved construction of a new city hall, a project that stirred up high hopes, vitriol and even lawsuits on its long road to the final vote.

Mayor Oscar Goodman called it a “mini-stimulus” and “the keystone of a new downtown,” while critics said it’s nothing more than a $185 million bet that the economy will recover by the time the construction bills start coming due.

“I feel very, very confident that we did the right thing for the future of this city,” Goodman said. “This is the way you get our economy back. This is the way you start to have optimism and confidence and not negativism.”

The one vote against came from Councilman Stavros Anthony, who has maintained that the project is too risky for the city to take on when the economy is uncertain.

“The big question right now is, how much impact is this city hall going to have on our operating budget?” Anthony said. “I believe it’s going to have a significant impact. I think we’re potentially going to put ourselves in a position where we’re going to have to lay off more employees, cut more.”

Councilman Steve Ross abstained because the building’s developer, Forest City, has agreed to use union labor on the project. Ross is secretary-treasurer of the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, which promotes union labor.

More than a dozen construction union members were in the audience today and cheered when the final vote was taken.

The new city hall site will be a block bordered by Main Street, First Street, and Lewis and Clark avenues. Construction should start next month with the demolition of the existing buildings there, Goodman said.

Construction of the 310,000-square-foot building is expected to take two years.

The city is using what’s known as “lease-purchase” financing, which is similar to bond funding but carries a little more risk because the city technically has the option of walking away from the deal. The financing is backed by Build America Bonds, a federal stimulus program that rebates some of the borrowing costs to the city. With the rebate, the city obtained an effective interest rate of 5.26 percent.

The city had a “very successful” bond offering this morning, said Finance Director Mark Vincent. The council approved the deal just before 1 p.m. with less than five minutes to spare before the bond markets on the East Coast closed.

The city’s first payment of $3.5 million on the building will be due in the 2013 fiscal year, followed by payments of $9.3 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Thereafter, the amount due will be $13.4 million annually for the remainder of the 30-year financing period.

The expectation is that the new city hall will give a boost to other planned developments downtown. Forest City has plans to build 900,000 square feet of office and retail space adjacent to the new municipal building, and would get access to a parcel in Symphony Park for a hotel-casino when the building is complete.

The existing city hall site will be combined with other city-owned land fronting Las Vegas Boulevard and Stewart Avenue. The Cordish Companies is examining the 19-acre parcel for use as a sports arena and entertainment district, and sent a letter to the city recently saying that the existing city hall site would have to be vacated for its plans to work.

There’s also hope that the remodeling of the closed Lady Luck casino will gain momentum, along with development planned around the under-construction Mob Museum.

“I look at this as a golden opportunity for us … to do what other cities wish they had the opportunity to do. This vote today is our CityCenter,” Councilman Steve Wolfson said in a reference to the massive hotel-casino complex opening on the Strip.

Councilman Ricki Barlow also was optimistic.

“This is going to be a turning point for the downtown,” Barlow said. “This development will be the first domino of very many dominoes to come.”

At one point in the long-running city hall debate, the Culinary union filed ballot measures to stop the project and then went to court when the City Council wouldn’t put the measures before voters. A court eventually ruled that the measures were flawed and that the city could reject them.

However, now the city and the union have made peace, with the union agreeing not to challenge downtown projects in exchange for a new ordinance that would require hospitality projects that have a city connection — such as the ones envisioned in this deal — to contract with unions.

If none of the expected development occurs, the costs of the new city hall would be borne by the city’s general fund, which is in sorry shape right now. The recession has brought steeply reduced tax collections, and the city is holding positions vacant, laying off some employees, delaying capital projects and contemplating dramatic wage cuts — an 8 percent slice across the board and the elimination of all raises, including merit and cost-of-living.

In that light, the city shouldn’t be counting on revenues to recover, said Dean Fletcher, head of the Las Vegas firefighters union. He worried that the city was borrowing money for a new city hall while delaying other capital projects, such as fire stations, and keeping positions vacant even in public safety departments.

“God, I hope it works,” said Fletcher, although he was skeptical that it would.

“It’s a gamble,” he said, pointing to existing downtown projects such as Neonopolis and the Streamline and Juhl condominium towers that have empty space. “There’s empty retail in all of them.”

Anthony felt the same way.

“Capital projects have been put on hold because of our budget,” he said. “Is the city hall payment going to exacerbate that? Is it going to make it worse? That’s what I didn’t want to take a chance on.

“I hope that when this thing gets built, everything I said doesn’t come to pass. But that’s hope. I don’t deal with taxpayers’ money, and health and safety, on hope,” Anthony said.

Goodman called that a false comparison — the current budget cuts would be taking place whether or not the city pursued a new city hall, he said.

But he also has acknowledged several times that if the economy hasn’t recovered sufficiently in five to seven years, the city could be in a hard place.

“If redevelopment can’t pay for this,” he said, “we are in deep doo.”

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

 

ad-high_impact_4
News
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like