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Las Vegas will help convert troubled downtown motel to apartments

Las Vegas officials will contribute $95,000 in redevelopment agency funds to convert a vacant downtown motel with a troubled recent history into a 21-unit apartment complex.

The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a public-private partnership with the owner of the Safari Motel on a $440,000 renovation, expected to be completed by May 30, city documents show.

City officials say the project will create 27 jobs, boost downtown housing and generate modest annual state and local taxes. But perhaps most critical to the investment, it provides a face-lift to one of East Fremont Street’s blighted downtown properties.

The issues with Safari Motel before it ceased operations in May were well documented: violent crime, drug use and health violations. Since 2006, officials opened 11 code enforcement cases, according to the city. There have been three fires at the property in the last five years.

The new owner, 2001 Fremont LLC, bought the old motel for $950,000 on May 31, Clark County property records show. The company then requested Las Vegas assist with the motel’s conversion to market rate apartments and agreed to renovate the historic neon “Safari” sign to its original condition, according to the city.

A city document, which describes the scope of the project, also suggests the Safari Motel street sign — if not used on-site — may be donated to the city.

A Beverly Hills, California-based company called Las Vegas Apartments LLC will renovate the property, which was constructed in 1956, according to county records. The fixes include landscaping, new paint, electrical systems, cabinets and floors, plumbing and a security gate.

Jamie Simons, the general manager of Las Vegas Apartments LLC, told the Review-Journal that the company was “excited” about this particular project.

“There’s a lot of demand in that area for studio apartments, but there’s not that many affordably priced modern ones,” he said.

The motion to approve the agreement was approved without discussion as part of a list of several routine items on the city council’s agenda.

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

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