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April 16, 2014

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City approves $7.1 million for mob museum exhibits

Project on track for ‘soft opening’ in May or June 2011

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Dave Toplikar

Remediation work was continuing today on the former federal courthouse and post office that will be the home of the Las Vegas Organized Crime and Law Enforcement Museum, known as the Mob Museum, at 300 Stewart Avenue in downtown Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council today approved $7.1 million for fabrication and installation of more than 30 video and interactive exhibits for the museum, set to open in May or June 2011.

Mob Museum Media Tour

A third-story room is shown during a media tour of the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (the Launch slideshow »

Mob Museum location

The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday approved $7.1 million for the exhibits that will go into the downtown mob museum, which is expected to be open in less than a year.

"What we've been doing over there up to this point is simply rehabbing the building to accept the exhibits that make it a museum," Scott Adams, the city's chief urban redevelopment officer, told the city council.

"This next phase will really make it become the Mob Museum," he said.

The council awarded the museum's exhibit construction contract to Hardy Construction Inc., a local general contracting firm that is currently building the Craig Ranch Regional Park in North Las Vegas and the Hollywood Aquatic Center for Clark County.

Under the contract, Hardy will fabricate and install more than 30 video and interactive exhibits through the three-story, 41,000-square-foot building at 300 Stewart Ave.

Hardy is expected to oversee a team of sub-contractors responsible for creating the films and digital media. Those contractors will be announced later, according to a statement from the museum board.

The only "no" vote for the funds came from Councilman Stavros Anthony, who has consistently voted against funding on the project. Anthony made no comment.

Meanwhile, work has been continuing on renovating the historic former federal courthouse and post office that will house the museum, officially known as the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

"We're well into the current shell rehab of the building," Adams said.

One of the items that the board also approved today was for $362,000 to deal with more remediation on the building. That included replastering in some of the areas where asbestos and lead-based paint were removed, Adams said.

"Because this is a National Historic Register building, we have to rehab the building to Secretary of Interior standards," Adams said.

The asbestos and lead-based paint removal work put the project behind by three to four months on the construction schedule, he said.

However, fabrication on the new exhibits can start taking place off of the site, then brought to the building to be installed, he said. There will be some overlap in the spring when construction and installation will overlap, he said.

"The intent is still to have the building open we think somewhere in July to the public," he said. But the intent is to have a building dedication and "soft opening" in May or June of 2011.

Along with the remodeling of the core and shell of the building and the construction of the exhibits, the city is also working with the museum board on hiring a full-time staff, he said.

The museum's board is in the process of evaluating firms that will operate the retail gift shop at the museum, he said.

"It's a very complicated project with a number of moving parts and they're all moving on parallel tracks," he said.

Councilmen Ricki Barlow and Steve Ross both praised the project.

"In conjunction with the Neon Boneyard, I've heard some comments from the community that we are really working hard on having that new cultural base in the downtown area," Ross said. He said the Neon Boneyard has been visited by people from all 50 states and 38 countries.

"We're really hitting the cusp of being a cultural center in the downtown area," he said.

Mayor Oscar Goodman said that Dennis Barrie, who will be the museum's director, has said the Mob Museum is the most eagerly anticipated museum in the country.

Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian asked if there was a provision for the city to get any of the money that is made from the museum shops.

Adams said the agreement the city made a couple of months ago with the non-profit board set up to run the museum is that if the museum makes more money than it needs to pay for expenses, the additional revenue would come back to the city.

According to earlier estimates, the museum could generate between $8.5 million to $13.9 million annually.

The museum, which is expected to cost about $42 million to construct, is being funded through a variety of sources: local, state and federal grants, matching grants and the city's redevelopment agency.

So far the museum has received more than $8.3 million in grants, including nearly $1.9 million in economic development initiative grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than $500,000 from Save America's Treasures from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, more than $5.6 million in Centennial Committee Awards from the Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial, more than $87,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office, a $250,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and $200,000 from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

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