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July 28, 2014

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Mayor: City Hall topping off ceremony spells jobs for Las Vegas

New seven-story structure expected to be completed in first quarter of 2012

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Steve Marcus

Workers head back to the job site after a topping off ceremony for the new Las Vegas City Hall in downtown Las Vegas Thursday, October 15, 2010.

City Hall Topping Off

A view of the new Las Vegas City Hall under construction in downtown Las Vegas Thursday, October 15, 2010. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2012. Launch slideshow »

New City Hall site

With a booming blast from his airhorn, Mayor Oscar Goodman gave the signal.

As about 200 hard-hatted construction workers and city employees watched, a crane lifted the white steel beam late Friday morning across the bright blue Las Vegas sky.

Goodman and dozens of other city dignitaries and employees had just signed the beam, which swiftly made its way up the steel skeleton of what will eventually be the new Las Vegas City Hall.

Two construction workers perched high atop the seventh floor of the unfinished building were cheered from below as they carefully fitted the beam into place. They shook hands, getting hoots and applause from those gathered below.

"It's a wonderful, wonderful day," Goodman had said moments earlier in his opening remarks at the "topping off" ceremony. The event showcased not only the building, but the city's efforts at redeveloping the downtown and creating construction jobs in a down economy.

"I travel around the country and there's not another city in the country that has projects like this. The city of Las Vegas made up its mind that we weren't going to stop going forward in making this the best city in the universe," Goodman said.

"Not withstanding the fact that the other entities in the valley here all pulled back on their capital improvement projects, the city of Las Vegas went forward and that's why we're able to have this event today."

The new building, under construction at 518 S. First St., is between First and Main streets and Lewis and Clark avenues, two blocks south of the Golden Nugget hotel-casino.

It is part of a five-block development plan that includes the nearly completed Regional Transportation Commission's new Bonneville Transit Center.

"At the end of the day, when this five-block area is completed, together, what's happening in the downtown around City Hall and East Fremont Street and what's happening over in Symphony Park, we will have created 14,000 permanent jobs in downtown Las Vegas," the mayor said.

"The citizens who live here will be able to afford their homes, not go into foreclosure, be able to feed their families and to have gainful employment," he said.

Goodman thanked the Las Vegas City Council for going ahead with the 310,000-square-foot building, which is expected to be finished in the first quarter of 2012.

The project is being financed by $185.6 million in bonds, the majority of which are Build America Bonds, which were created as part of federal economic stimulus legislation.

Goodman also praised the construction workers for getting the steel skeleton for the project up in 34 working days, which he called "a small miracle."

"It's extraordinary and a tribute to each and every one of you working people," he said.

City Manager Betsy Fretwell said the project is being built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sustainability standards. The energy savings will cut the cost of operations of City Hall by $500,000 a year, Fretwell said.

Officials have estimated that about 1,400 construction jobs are being created during the city hall construction.

Eric Louttit, vice president of Forest City, the project developer, recognized Whiting-Turner, the general contractor, and SME, the steel fabricator, for their work on the project, as well as the trade union workers.

"This new city hall is just the first step in what we expect to be a series of projects in the coming years, both here on this property and in the surrounding blocks, as well as in Symphony Park across the tracks," Louttit said.

"These projects will generate jobs. They'll create a ripple effect of opportunity and growth for many, many years for many Las Vegans," he said.

Goodman said about 11 1/2 years ago the city council had a vision and a dream to revitalize the downtown.

"And all you have to do is look around here and you see the extraordinary progress that has been made," he said.

He pointed out the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain designed by Frank Gehry, which he said is "almost like a cathedral," and is the cornerstone for the development. The development surroundings also include the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the World Market Center, he said.

"It is really extraordinary through the hard work of the trades, the hard work of the council, the hard work of the city staff through the manager's office, we've been able to turn the face of Las Vegas around, upside down, from a frown to a smile," Goodman said.

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