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Las Vegas breaks ground on $56M municipal courthouse

Las Vegas officials on Tuesday ushered in the start of construction on a $56 million municipal courthouse, a four-story facility that Mayor Carolyn Goodman cast as a “one-stop shop” for local-level justice needs.

“This building is now the latest piece in a fully realized justice corridor in the heart of downtown,” Goodman said during the morning groundbreaking ceremony.

Located at 100 E. Clark Avenue, near City Hall, the courthouse’s pending construction represents the beginning of a long-awaited move for municipal court operations out of the Regional Justice Center. It is expected to be completed by January 2021.

Municipal Court Chief Judge Cynthia Leung said the new facility will help the courts be more efficient and accessible to the public.

“We have waited a very long time for this historic moment,” she said.

Once finished, the courthouse will hold offices and chambers for each of the city’s six municipal court judges. Each has jurisdiction over traffic violations, criminal misdemeanors, and municipal code and low-level civil ordinance infractions that occur in Las Vegas.

Municipal judges preside over close to 140,000 cases per year, according to Leung, and each department has a specialty court with specialties that include women, DUIs, mental health, veterans and youth.

The new courthouse, which will be nearly 140,000 square feet, will set aside space for traffic court, administration, customer service, classrooms and the city attorney’s criminal division. The building will be energy efficient to reduce overall operating expenses, according to Goodman.

With facility construction soon to be underway after the council approved a deal in October with developer the Molasky Group of Cos., outgoing Councilman Bob Coffin on Tuesday said the city can now tout “a real downtown.”

“We have really come a long way, haven’t we?” he said. “Truly a nice building that practically does pay for itself.”

Due to an earlier agreement, Clark County will pay the city $23.5 million to buy it out of its Regional Justice Center lease. The remainder of the project will be funded by $35 million in general obligation building bonds that the council approved in January.

Molasky previously estimated the project will create 150 construction jobs.

The Regional Justice Center was originally built to consolidate city, county, District and Supreme Court operations in a single building, in part to avoid public confusion about which courthouse to use. But the county needed more space in the Regional Justice Center that will be freed up with the city’s exit.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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