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City of Las Vegas in talks to buy aging Grant Sawyer building

Updated March 31, 2024 - 8:35 am

The Grant Sawyer State Office Building’s future is likely in the city of Las Vegas’ hands.

The city — which did not respond to a request for comment Friday because its offices were closed — is in talks to purchase the aging building by early next year, according to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s office.

State officers and agencies that maintain offices at Grant Sawyer will instead be housed in a new cluster of 18 office buildings located near Harry Reid International Airport. Buying the complex cost the state $263 million.

Some state offices and their staff, including the governor’s office, the governor’s office of economic development and others, have already made the move to the new campus. Others, like the attorney general’s office and the Gaming Control Board, haven’t yet made the move.

But that won’t be true for long, state Department of Administration Director Jack Robb said. The plan is for everyone to be moved out of the building by mid-July.

All told, 4,200 state employees will have been relocated into the new office by December, according to Elizabeth Ray, a spokesperson for Lombardo’s office.

Three buildings on the campus are reserved for state lawmakers, who currently do not have offices in Southern Nevada. The offices are expected to be usable in July, Robb said.

Lombardo had called for the construction of two new buildings and a remodel of Grant Sawyer to increase office space and update the dilapidated building, which was estimated to cost the state around $470 million.

His administration later proposed buying the group of buildings near the airport, a more cost-effective option that would make 835,000 square feet in office space available to the state.

The transition from leasing office space to owning office space is expected to save the state 50 percent in annual costs, Ray said.

The choice to finally abandon Grant Sawyer comes after years of complaints about the nearly three-decade-old building.

Reports of fungi and mold reportedly making employees ill began shortly after the building opened, and resulted in at least 10 state employees filing worker’s compensation complaints in 2017.

The office has also faced complaints of unregulated temperatures, leaking sewage, pigeon droppings on the roof and flooding.

And if that wasn’t enough, the building has multiple structural deficiencies that would have cost the state $200 million to repair. A total redesign of the entire building, including a “complete redo” of the elevator shafts and redesign of the HVAC system, would be needed to bring the building up to modern code, Robb said.

Among those deficiencies are issues with the elevators. One of the building’s elevators is permanently out of service, Robb said.

Getting employees away from the problematic building isn’t the only benefit. The move to the new building has increased employee morale, Robb said.

“We bring them on campus to show them where they’re moving into, we actually have people cry, that they can’t believe that they’re moving into such nice accommodation,” Robb said of employees. “So it’s having an impact on employee morale, and it’s a good boost for them.”

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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