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August 22, 2014

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ICE wants to build in LV; city wants a certain builder

Proposed building site

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency wants to build a Las Vegas headquarters.

That news was broken at last week’s Las Vegas City Council meeting by representatives of the Molasky Group, the developer behind several large government projects.

The council passed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Molasky to develop a proposal for a 60,000-square-foot, three-story building at 301 W. Mesquite Ave. — a desolate city-owned 20 acres south of Bonanza Road and west of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The new building would house agency offices with different functions under one roof.

“We’re enhancing our operational effectiveness,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said. “We want to have everything in one building.”

The new building would house ICE’s investigations unit and its detention and removal division, Haley said. Currently, there are about a half-dozen agency offices around the area, she said.

At the council meeting, long-time local developer Irwin Molasky said his company’s development would result in 150-200 new jobs for the area, not counting construction jobs.

Mayor Oscar Goodman also spoke highly of the potential the development could have to revitalize the area, which is just north of U.S. Highway 95.

The bidding process, run by the U.S. General Services Administration, allows for competing bids from other developers, for other area locations.

Rich Worthington, the Molasky Group’s president, said he knows of two other parties looking to build the project. The other developers also would be looking at downtown sites, as mandated by a law requiring that new federal office buildings be located within a city’s “central business district.”

The city entered an agreement with Molasky instead of soliciting bids for the property because “we didn’t think we’d have a lot of interest if there was a bid,” Bill Arent, director of the city’s Office of Business Development, said.

It’s a challenging, highway-bordered site that is mostly vacant, Arent added, and Molasky was the only group to express interest in developing the parcel for the federal project.

Molasky might have an edge in getting the federal contract, as it has had success winning similar federal agency contacting bids. It was the developer behind the Social Security Administration facility on Buffalo Drive near Charleston Boulevard, as well as the IRS building at City and Grand Central parkways.

Broadly, ICE’s mission is to enforce the country’s immigration and customs laws. But the agency’s purview is wide-ranging. ICE’s office of investigations, for example, probes criminal activities including arms and narcotics smuggling, financial crimes, human trafficking and child exploitation.

•••

As officials grapple with budget woes that could force service cuts, they’ve decided to seek advice directly from those most affected. This week the Las Vegas City Council unveiled its “Your City, Your Way” effort to gauge how much residents value various city programs and services.

The city has created a Web site — lasvegasnevada.gov/yourcity — which has a link to a “five-minute” survey asking questions about whether residents are satisfied with various city services, from after-school and senior programs to redevelopment efforts.

The city is also reaching out through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where they can find the survey at “CityofLasVegas.” On Facebook they can go to facebook.com/CityOfLasVegas.

Facing a $240 million budget shortfall over the next five years, the city will use the input to decide which efforts to fund and which to cut.

In January, City Manager Betsy Fretwell is slated to present to the council options to meet a $25 million reduction to the fiscal year 2011 budget, according to a city news release. The data compiled from the survey will be used to help her make recommendations to the council, “so public input is essential in helping the city make sound financial decisions.”

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