LV OKs city hall project

On a series of near-unanimous votes Wednesday, 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 Wednesday and cheered when the final vote was taken.

The 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 is 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 Wednesday morning, Finance Director Mark Vincent said. 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 next 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 it sent a letter to the city recently saying that the existing City Hall site would have to be vacated for its plans to work.

Also, hope exists that the remodeling of the closed Lady Luck casino will gain momentum, 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 was optimistic too.

“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 debate, the Culinary union filed ballot measures to stop the project and then went to court when the City Council would not put the measures before voters. A court ruled that the measures were flawed and that the city could reject them.

The city and the union have made peace, with the union agreeing not to challenge downtown projects for a new ordinance that would require hospitality projects that have a city connection 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.

The recession has brought steeply reduced tax collections, and the city is holding positions vacant, laying off some workers, 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.

The city should not 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. “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 has acknowledged several times that if the economy has not 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 or 702-229-6435.

Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
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
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
Record number participate in Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony
Three hundred sixty-five medical students received their white coats during the Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony at the M Resort in Henderson Monday. The ceremony was developed to honor students in osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy as they accept the professional responsibilities inherent in their relationship with patients. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop for school buses, urges CCSD
Clark County School District Police Department hold a mock traffic stop at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Work Begins at Las Vegas Community Healing Garden
Crews moved the wooden Remembrance Wall at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on South Casino Center Boulevard Monday. Construction on a permanent wall is set to begin within the week. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Man wounded outside Cottages apartment
Las Vegas police don't have a motive after a man was shot early Monday morning outside a northwest valley apartment. The man's mother called police to say her son had been shot. She called police around 1:15 a.m. Other people were inside the apartment but no one else was injured. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Ride new Interstate 11 segment in one minute
Interstate 11 opens to the public Thursday, providing sweeping views of Lake Mead, art deco-style bridges and a mural illustrating the construction of Hoover Dam. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miss El Tiempo 2019
Miss Teen El Tiempo and Miss El Tiempo 2019 were crowned at Sam's Town Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Woman Raises Awareness for Anxiety and Depression
Cassi Davis was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after the birth of her second child. After seeking help and support, she felt that there wasn't enough for support for those living day in and day out for those with mood disorders. She created the Crush Run, set for Sept. 22, to raise money for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and bring together a community of people who live with the same conditions she does. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas marks the opening of Tropical Parkway connector
The City of North Las Vegas, Nevada Department of Transportation and other partners celebrated the opening of the Tropical Parkway connector to Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway. The stretch of road will make access easier for distribution centers for Amazon, Sephora and other companies moving into an 1,100-acre industrial area rising near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bighorn sheep with West Temple in background at Zion National Park
A bighorn sheep walks through Zion National Park (National Park Service)
Adult Superstore location closes after 45 years
The Adult Superstore on Main Street has closed its doors for good after 45 years. The shop, which offered a multitude of adult toys, novelty items and movies, opened in 1973. Four other locations remain open. A note on the front door tells customers, “We can’t fully express our sorrow.” Adult Superstore was awarded Best of Las Vegas adult store by the Review-Journal in 2016 and 2017 .
Funeral held for Las Vegas corrections officer
Department of Public Safety Correctional Officer Kyle Eng died July 19 after a fight with an inmate at the Las Vegas Jail. A funeral was held for Eng at Canyon Ridge Christian Church Monday, July 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What Back-To-School Shopping Is Like For a CCSD Parent and Teacher
Laura LeBowsky, a CCSD special education teacher and mother of two, set out to shop for her children's supply lists at her local Walmart and Target. She was looking for deals to try to keep the total under $150, while also allowing Chloe, 8, and Brady, 6, some choice in what they wanted. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Businesses struggle to fill food manufacturing jobs
Chelten House is a family-owned food manufacturing company from New Jersey. They created a facility in Vegas five years ago and have struggled to find experienced workers in the area. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LeBron heckler crosses line, altercation erupts
NBA superstar LeBron James, his wife, Savannah, and daughter Zhuri were at Liberty High School to watch Bronny James in action Wednesday night. But an unruly fan wearing a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey heckled the newest Los Angeles Laker. The man screamed at event security with LeBron and his family about 150 feet away. The man had to be restrained, triggering a brief altercation with security. James and his family were escorted out a side door along with Bronny's team, the North Coast Blue Chips. Event officials canceled the game between the Blue Chips and Nike Meanstreets.
Las Vegas Oddities Shop in Downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas Oddities shop owner Vanessa VanAlstyne describes what's for sale in one of the weirder and wackier stores in Downtown Las Vegas. The store opened less than a year ago and carries everything from human bones to "rogue" taxidermy to Victorian death photography. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like