Las Vegas Sun

December 22, 2014

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Council OKs up to $100 million in redevelopment bonds

With an eye to job creation from several downtown development projects that will spur the local economy, the Las Vegas City Council decided today to sell $80 million to $100 million in redevelopment bonds.

The money raised by the bonds will go toward building infrastructure for the 61-acre Union Park project, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, a.k.a. the mob museum.

Despite the recession and a nationwide credit crunch, there are still large investors who are likely to buy the bonds, said Mark Vincent, director of finance and acting deputy city manager.

“This will create construction jobs for the people working on the projects and the permanent jobs for the people being employed there,” he said.

The redevelopment authority is taking on new debt but, he said, it will have the tax revenue to pay back the bonds.

Some see the bond sale as a way for the city to help put people to work so that they can spur the economy during a bleak construction period.

“If you build it, they will come,” said Thomas Morley, Laborers Local 872 director of governmental affairs.

Union Park is a 61-acre, $6 billion new downtown core that will be built from the ground up. First-phase infrastructure is near completion. Curbs and gutters are in place, officials said.

The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, under construction at West Bonneville Avenue and Grand Central Parkway, is on the southwestern corner of the site. The $50 million medical center, which will be run in partnership with the renowned Cleveland Clinic, is scheduled to be completed this year. The World Jewelry Center, the 426-room Charlie Palmer boutique hotel, and other residential and mixed-use projects also are planned for the site.

Construction on the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which will be the center of Union Park, is scheduled to begin in late March. The $360 million project will be Las Vegas’ first comprehensive cultural center. It has a late 2011 opening.

“Twenty-four million a year in new taxes will be generated from the Union Park buildout,” said Scott Adams, director of the Office of Business Development and the city’s redevelopment manager.

The project will double the amount of property tax revenue collected from the entire redevelopment area, which encompasses all of downtown. The $50 million mob museum, which will examine organized crime and law enforcement’s efforts to combat it, has raised about $15 million in grants.

The remaining $35 million is expected to come from bond sales. The mob musuem will be housed in the three-story post office and federal courthouse building downtown, which is a national historical site. It is expected to open in 2010.

Becky Bosshart can be reached at 990-7748 or [email protected].

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