Las Vegas Sun

August 30, 2014

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Local Government:

City Council decisions may go green, go to the chapel and go to class

Rehabbing an old building downtown could get cheaper and easier if the Las Vegas City Council decides to loosen energy-efficiency standards Wednesday. The council will vote on the proposed change, which has split developers and green building advocates, when it meets for its regular meeting at 9 a.m. at Las Vegas City Hall, 495 S. Main St.

Seeing green

Installing the insulation, windows and other equipment needed to meet the city’s energy-efficiency standards can cost business owners tens of thousands of dollars, especially in old, drafty buildings scattered throughout downtown.

Councilman Bob Beers has argued those energy code requirements are overly burdensome on business owners and could deter development downtown, which is why he’s proposed a bill to loosen the standards.

The proposed bill would allow owners of existing buildings undergoing renovations to comply only with the code requirements at the time the building was constructed, not the more stringent guidelines implemented by the city in 2011.

The move is supported by downtown business owners such as George Harris, who said he spent $34,000 to meet code requirements at his new bar, but it has drawn opposition from a group of architects, consultants and other green building advocates who call the proposed change short-sighted.

The bill garnered the support of councilmen Bob Coffin and Stavros Anthony during a recommending committee meeting in May, meaning Beers will need to sway one other council member to implement the change.

Wedding chapel expansion

Owners of the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel at 1205 Las Vegas Blvd. South recently purchased the adjacent lot with plans to expand their business and are now seeking the city’s help paying for renovations at a former Thai restaurant on the property.

The City Council will consider whether to award DeCar Enterprises, which owns the chapel, two grants worth a combined $95,000 to help pay for signage, façade improvements and interior upgrades to bring the building up to code.

The company plans to spend a total of $759,000 to turn the vacant building into a reception hall and banquet facility.

Education donation

Improving literacy rates in Las Vegas is a stated priority of the City Council, and on Wednesday it will consider whether to make a $200,000 contribution to further those goals.

The literacy lift-off program would provide assistance to students at Matt Kelley and Rex Bell elementary schools for the next two years.

The program would be run through the Public Education Foundation and would cost the city $200,000, with most of the funds coming from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.

The city will vote to approve funding and enter into an agreement with the foundation on Wednesday.

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