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Las Vegas City Council approves Area 15 tourism district

The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved diverting up to $13.7 million in sales tax revenue over two decades as incentive to the developer of an immersive art and retail project.

Area 15, expected to open to the public by spring, includes indoor and outdoor event space, a food cart and retail kiosk spots. The art collective Meow Wolf’s curated and interactive common area will anchor the development.

City policymakers authorized creating a tourism improvement district for the project, which is authorized under state law to encourage tourism-related economic development. The Nevada Commission on Tourism last month agreed it would qualify as a district because it will draw more than half of its visitors from out of town.

The incentive for developer, Fisher Brothers, is capped at 3.13 percent of future gross sales tax revenue generated by the project or $688,000 annually, whichever is less, over a 20-year period. The revenue will be distributed to the developer yearly, apply to the first phase only and not impact taxes earmarked for schools, city officials say.

Fisher Brothers has estimated a million visitors annually to Area 15, nearly three times as many as the yearly draw to the Meow Wolf site in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to consultant Terry Murphy.

Its location, north of Desert Inn Road and west of Interstate 15, once held a Scandia miniature golf complex but has been vacant for years. The city saw its involvement as sparking development in a long-neglected area. But Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick criticized the plan, in large part because the county would have otherwise collected half of the incentive tax dollars.

Oddwood bar, Emporium arcade-bar and virtual reality company Nomadic are other tenants which have been announced for Area 15, which becomes the city’s third tourism improvement district. One is in Symphony Park and another is near the Mob Museum.

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

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