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September 22, 2014

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Downtown Mob Museum set up to be self-supporting

Nonprofit Three Hundred Stewart Avenue Corp. to run museum

Mob Museum location

The Las Vegas City Council took another step forward today toward making a downtown Mob Museum a reality — and having it be self-supporting.

On a 5-1 vote, the council approved a pre-operating and development agreement and an accompanying 30-year lease between the city and Three Hundred Stewart Avenue Corp., which will manage the museum at the former post office and federal courthouse at 300 Stewart Ave.

The only no vote was from Councilman Stavros Anthony, who didn't make any comments, but has consistently voted against agenda items dealing with the $42 million Mob Museum, formally known as the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

The city was able to obtain the building for $1 from the federal General Services Administration, which considered the building surplus. The city was

given the requirement that the project would have to be acceptable to the GSA not only architecturally, but in terms of its exhibits.

Scott Adams, the city's chief urban redevelopment officer, told the council the museum was on track to open in June 2011.

Adams said the action taken today sets up the provisions for an orderly transfer of both the development and the operation of the Mob Museum from the city to the non-profit Three Hundred Steward Avenue Corp.

Among the provisions is a development budget and a pre-operating budget that gives the nonprofit corporation and the city the resources to successfully open and manage the museum, Adams said.

A subcommittee will be created consisting of representatives of the city and the nonprofit to deal with issues that including staffing, marketing, and a retail program, he said.

The lease deals with the building and its two-acre site and amounts to a term of five years initially, with five additional five-year extensions, or a total of 30 years at $1 per year.

"We're establishing that as we move forward under this lease, there would be no operating obligation of this project to the city," Adams said. "It would be the Three Hundred Stewart Avenue Corporation's obligation to make all of the utility payments, the maintenance, all of the things that are normally associated with the operation, maintenance and care of a building of this nature."

The lease also requires that various cash reserves be set aside so, in case of a bad year, the museum wouldn't need to come to the city for funds, he said.

If the city ever must take back the museum, there is a provision that all of the funding improvements that that city put into the building would be recovered by the city, he said.

Councilman Steve Wolfson asked who owned the land and the building. Adams explained the city retains ownership as the landlord, with the nonprofit as the tenant.

Goodman disclosed that he was on the board of directors of the nonprofit and asked if he would be allowed to vote on the matter. They city's attorney told him he could do so because he served without compensation.

Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow said the Mob Museum will be a boon to the downtown.

"This entertainment venue will not only attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from out of state, but it will also attract, in my opinion, hundreds of thousands of residents here locally to an entertainment venue that the Las Vegas Valley has never experienced before," Barlow said.

Barlow said it would be an educational venue that will tell a rich story about the beginnings of the city as well as law enforcement and the role it played during the years that organized crime controlled gambling in the city.

He said he was also pleased that the city would be using an existing historical structure.

"In a city which believes in implosion, I am very pleased to be a part of a new era where restoring and also preserving the rich history of these older buildings within our community," Barlow said.

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