West Las Vegas has been without a grocery store for three years, but on Tuesday developers and grocers pitched their plans to fill the void.
The meeting had been called by Councilwoman Brenda Williams, who is serving as the interim Ward 5 representative until the election June 5. Any decision on the proposal, she said, would be made by her successor.
For the next council person to consider: eight proposals looking at the 10 acres of city-owned land at Lake Mead and Martin Luther King boulevards. The city is throwing in $5 million in land or construction costs for whoever builds a grocery store on the site.
The meeting at Doolittle Community Center was attended by about 150 people. Many wore the red shirts that read Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
Many members of that organizations said they supported Mario Berlanga, owner of Mario’s Westside Market. Berlanga said he wants to move his 10,000-square-foot store across the street and build a 27,000-square-foot store.
Also making a proposal is Laurich Properties, the state’s largest grocery store developer. Hank Gordon said he was in talks with Food 4 Less about a 70,000-square-foot store, possibly with a gasoline station and a bank on the parcel.
He made it clear that the city would need to approve an exclusive negotiating agreement to trigger Food 4 Less to do its own economic feasibility study for the area.
“I’ve rarely, in my 50 years, gone this far without the retailer following through,” Gordon said.
He also said the city Office of Business Development Director Scott Adams asked him bluntly whether he was committed to the project.
“I’m 72 years old. I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” Gordon said. “I have no time to screw around.”
Williams said she met with a Food 4 Less representative Tuesday morning who said there would be 100 full- and part-time jobs, all of which would come with benefits.
“I’m not touting (this proposal), but this is exciting,” she said
The third proposal came from Tesco, a European grocery store giant breaking into the Las Vegas market.
Leni Skaar, a local consultant for Tesco, said the store would be 14,000 square feet and there would also be a Walgreen’s pharmacy.
She said the store has made its reputation for fresh produce and meat, and the store would not sell tobacco products or include slot machines.
Skaar said the company is committed to the site and has money to start construction. “We have the cash,” she said.
Williams has maintained that the decision on any proposal should be made by whomever is elected.
Neither candidate, Ricki Barlow nor Stacie Truesdell, would say Tuesday night which projects are most appealing to them.
Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who fought as a City Council member to bring in a grocery store, said he wants a store that will stay open.
“We can’t get caught up in emotion,” he said. “It comes down to who’s able to compete.”
Eddie Watson, vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said after Tuesday night’s meeting, he was optimistic. “Right now, if our people want a job, it has to be across town,” he said.
Officials also gave an update on the former Von’s space at Edmond Town Center.
John Edmond, who owns the center, said Von’s controls the lease for that space for 8 1/2 to 9 years. But Las Vegas police said they are looking at using half that space for a gang task force headquarters. The other half would be a Save-A-Lot. Both parties are negotiating with Von’s parent company.