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Lombardo plans to ditch Grant Sawyer for airport office park

Updated May 3, 2023 - 7:57 pm

Gov. Joe Lombardo’s administration is planning to abandon the timeworn Grant Sawyer state office building near downtown Las Vegas and buy a group of office buildings in a park near Harry Reid International Airport.

Officials say the move would save the state more than $207 million over an alternative plan to rehabilitate Grant Sawyer and build another office tower on that property. Grant Sawyer reportedly suffers from “leaking sewage, unregulated office temperatures and dilapidated infrastructure,” according to a document outlining the plan.

Grant Sawyer — named for a Democratic governor who served from 1959 to 1967 — opened in 1995. According to the governor’s office, the plan to remodel and add to the campus would cost $470 million for a total of 470,000 square feet of space.

Instead, Lombardo’s office wants to buy a series of buildings in phases in the office park located at Warm Springs and Bermuda roads, near the I-215 Beltway. The purchases would come in phases between July and March 2025, and ultimately see 20 buildings come under state ownership.

That plan would cost $263 million and give the state a total of 835,000 square feet of space.

“This gives us the ability to control our destiny in terms of office space in Southern Nevada,” said Ben Kieckhefer, Lombardo’s chief of staff and a former Nevada state senator. “We want to create an office environment for state workers that is pleasant to be in.”

The space would also be convenient, located right next to Harry Reid International Airport.

The plan would be to locate most of the “back office” functions of state government in the complex, although there would still be some agencies that interact with the public in the area. Agencies such as the DMV and state public benefits offices would still be located around the valley, Kieckhefer said.

But Lombardo’s staff isn’t the only government entity that has its eye on the buildings; the Nevada Legislature is also seeking to buy some of the buildings for its staff, to include offices for lawmakers as well as legislative lawyers, auditors and researchers.

At a recent joint meeting of legislative money committees, a motion to approve money to operate at least three buildings in the complex drew a mixed reaction; Assembly lawmakers approved it but not enough senators voted yes. (Republicans on the committee objected to the expansion of legislative staff and the growth of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.) The issue will return to the committee before the session concludes June 5.

The mutual interest in the property has become a point of contention between the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Republican Lombardo’s administration.

What to do with the Sawyer building if the airport office park plan is approved has yet to be decided. “We think there are multiple uses for the site,” Kieckhefer said.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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