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Las Vegas City Council says yes to new courthouse plan

The Las Vegas City Council threw unanimous support Wednesday behind a plan to spend up to $56 million on a new downtown municipal courthouse.

The council approved a nonbinding project term sheet with The Molasky Group of Companies to develop a courthouse on nearly an acre on Clark Avenue near City Hall and the Regional Justice Center, where the city’s municipal courts are currently housed.

But council discussion included concerns about future growth and indicated the building could grow beyond the proposed 139,431-square-foot courthouse.

“It would be hard to look back and we didn’t prepare enough for the growth and the caseload and the specialty courts,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. “It seems we’re forever saying ‘why didn’t we do this? We need more space.’”

Adding a floor to the current building would allow for more courtroom space, and would be cheaper than expanding the building to the west when the need arises, Molasky officials said.

“Is it smarter to spend more money now, to shell out more now?” Councilman Bob Coffin asked. “The town is not going to get any smaller. Crime isn’t going to stop.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how much the courthouse price tag would grow if the building size increases, but the council must also approve a project development agreement for the work to proceed.

The current courthouse includes 30 on-site parking spaces. Additional parking will be available at the city’s Main Street garage, roughly a block west of the proposed courthouse site.

The council also unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Clark County that provides for the county buying the city out of its lease at the Regional Justice Center, to pave the way for the new courthouse.

Councilman Stavros Anthony called the run at the Regional Justice Center, which kicked off with cost overruns and delays, a “rough patch.”

“I’m kind of glad we’re getting out of there,” Anthony said.

The city will fund the project in part using dollars from the county buying the city out of its lease at the RJC, and issue bonds to finance the remainder of the project. The new courthouse is slated to be finished by Jan. 4, 2021.

As part of the deal with the county, city officials agreed for the next decade to not attempt annexation of 1,000 acres of unincorporated county land that sits within the city’s bounds, unless property owners pursue annexation.

Las Vegas officials faced significant pushback this year when they sought to absorb 872 acres of unincorporated county land, and the effort ultimately failed.

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.

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