A Tale of Three Cities

“It was the best of times, ….”

The new year always seems to start of with an air of enthusiasm and excitement and listening to the State of the City for the City of Henderson, the City of Las Vegas and the City of North Las Vegas, certainly supports that. The three cities, basically touching each other, have similar goals and long range plans, but different outcomes in their city’s individual execution of the plans. I’m going to concentrate mainly on their issues that impact economic development with respect to property development, construction and real estate.

All three cities pretty much agreed on three primary issues they are devoting their time, energy and monies towards:

1. Quality Education

2. Infrastructure Expansion and Upgrades

3. Economic Diversification.

Dr. Beverly Mathis Elementary School – Completed 2017

1. QUALITY EDUCATION: The three mayors recognized quality education, at all levels, as one of the top five factors that needed to be improved within their communities for advancement and success. This translates to new schools – public, charter and private – and to new programs for students after school. It also means new workforce training programs for businesses locating in their city and expansion of higher education programs to service new business types not presently in the valley. Granted, some of this is out of their direct guidance with existing school systems, but they all touted new charter schools, private schools and CCSD schools that were completed within the past year and more planned for the upcoming year.

2. INFRASTRUCTURE EXPANSION AND UPGRADES: With added growth and development in all three cities, they all recognized the need to expand the reach of the infrastructure and also to upgrade existing aging infrastructure. They were in agreement that this includes not only basic utility services, but streets and roadway design, public transportation, technology (fiber, wi-fi, communications, data, etc.) and public amenities (parks, recreation and related services). Henderson and Las Vegas touted Smart Cities and Complete Streets as influencers in designing infrastructure and pedestrian friendly walkable streets with integrated bike lanes and mass transit lanes. They are also looking at alternative mass transit systems (autonomous vehicles, bike share programs, etc.) as ways to promote sustainable growth. And they all had a list of new parks, libraries, fire stations and recreation facilities supporting expansion.

3. ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION: Probably the biggest topic that they all discussed was Economic Diversification – and this is where they differ a little in their individual execution. All three cities have recently completed Master Plans identifying growth, types of growth, locations for the growth expectations from the growth and benefits associated with the growth. It’s a little easier to break this down city by city as a comparison.

Legacy Traditional School, Cadence Campus

CITY OF HENDERSON: In her first State of the City, a very excited Mayor March identified Economic Diversification in three key areas for development/redevelopment: 1.) Union Village surrounding area, 2.) Downtown Water Street District and 3.) West Henderson. These three areas also support their three major growth/diversification markets – Healthcare, New Commercial and Entertainment, and SPORTS. Union Village has become synonymous with Healthcare growth and has a strong anchor with the recently opened Henderson Hospital and related MOB. 2018 plans for growth there include: a Wellness Center, 200 unit independent and assisted living facility, 100 unit memory village, dialysis facility, 8 acres of retail, 2 additional 100 bed hospitals and an acute care hospital. The Downtown Water Street area is being revitalized with infrastructure upgrades to support the new commercial, residential and entertainment locating there. 2017 saw a new coffee house, restaurants, and offices opening in downtown as well as Last Friday events and other expanded events on the plaza. 2018 has additional office and residential planned for downtown and expansion of Water Street to include additional entertainment areas and commercial locations. The big news for Henderson was, of course, the Raiders practice facility and management offices being located in West Henderson. 55 acres will be sold to the Raiders for their facilities that will firmly anchor sports in the West Henderson area. The $75M facility adjacent to the Henderson Executive Airport with house not only practice fields but also the corporate HQ, Sports MOB and Operations and Support buildings. In that same area, but independent of the Raiders announcement, a developer recently announced a 110 acre project just east of the M Resort. The Block is a development planned for 3,000 dwelling units in low-rise, mid-rise and hi-rise mixed-use and 500,000 SF of retail, office and entertainment venues. These areas don’t include the continued expansions in Inspirada, Cadence and north along Boulder Highway. One word to sum up the City of Henderson – EXCITING.

CITY OF LAS VEGAS: Mayor Goodman started out a little more somber than Mayor March by addressing the events of October 1 and ramping up from there.  Similar to the Henderson plan, the City of Las Vegas plan has three key areas for development/redevelopment: 1.) the Las Vegas Medical District, 2.) Symphony Park and 3.) Downtown. These three areas also support their three major growth/diversification markets – Healthcare, New Commercial and Entertainment, and SPORTS. The execution of the plan is where they differ a little from Henderson. The Las Vegas Medical District is slated for major expansion in the healthcare arena and is to be anchored by the new UNLV School of Medicine breaking ground in the district. The existing UMC Medical Center has a new tower expansion planned and a 1,000 vehicle parking structure is planned to be shared by all uses in the area. These major developments have spurred a lot of private developers in the district for mixed used residential, MOB’s and related support developments. In the second area, the city has released a number of lots in Symphony Park that make it more attractive to developers and Planning has reviewed two 300+ unit mixed use residential developments, a 1,000 vehicle shared garage and a hotel/casino on the northern most parcel. The new owners of the World Market are looking at expansion of their existing facilities to accommodate their trade show and convention growth. This area will also benefit with direct access to I-95 as part of the Project Neon Expansion. Downtown Las Vegas is continuing the expansion of entertainment (casinos), the cultural corridor and residential. A number of casino properties completed remodels downtown in 2017 and the D and Las Vegas Club are renovating/expanding in 2018 along with a remodel and upgrade of the Fremont Street Experience canopy. (Mayor Goodman also hinted at the possibility of another El Cortez expansion?) Downtown is expanding down the cultural corridor with expansions to the Neon Museum and the relocation of the Natural History Museum into the library (and old Discovery Museum) across the street. Downtown is encouraging and expanding residential downtown with Fremont 9’s 231 unit/ 15,000 SF retail mixed-use development nearing completion. The residential is to fill an identified 5,500 unit shortage in the city.  And not to be outdone by Henderson and the Raiders, the number one sport in the world will have a home at Cashman Field. The Las Vegas Lights will share the field with the 51’s until their new home is done in Summerlin. (No fireworks or cheerleaders to accompany this item – point goes to Henderson.) One word to sum up the City of Las Vegas – EXCITING.

CITY OF NORTH LAS VEGAS: Mayor Lee started his address with a little different approach. His drive was to reinforce that the City is financially stable, has a balanced budget, and is no longer junk bond status. He built a strong case as a city that was easy to do business with and a great investment opportunity for investors, developers and businesses. About half of his presentation was devoted to the economic stability of the city. In the City of North Las Vegas plan, the key areas for development/redevelopment were spurred by the abundant availability of land and included: 1.) the industrial areas from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway north to APEX, 2.) Downtown North Las Vegas and 3.) planned residential communities to the west. These three areas also support their two major growth/diversification markets – Industrial/ e-Commerce and New Commercial/ Entertainment. CNLV has set their goal as the premiere Industrial/e-Commerce area in the region with national distribution centers – even with Faraday (the new “F” work of CNLV) pulling out of Apex. Mayor Lee described the expansion of ProLogis, VanTrust, Amazon and Hyperloop developments and teased with a non-announcement of two “game changing” developments coming to Apex in 2018. With new infrastructure extending to Apex for water, developers have less roadblocks in the area. Aligned with their push for development is a revamping of city departments to make it easier and simpler to do business there. (i.e. self-certification of design professionals).  The downtown area of the city is experiencing a renaissance with a new 14 screen, $75M, Maya Entertainment Center, a new library and a learning campus all connected by a new park –located adjacent to the City Hall development. With the “abundance” of land, North Las Vegas saw 14,000 residential lots come on line in 2017 and expects a similar number in 2018. Another key point in the City of North Las Vegas plan to grow the tax base through economic development is to do it without stealing from other local cities and attracting NEW businesses to the area.  And they are doing it without a major sports franchise! One word to sum up the City of North Las Vegas – EXCITING.

All three cities presented positive, aggressive outlooks for 2018 and beyond. All three cities presented opportunities for growth – in different areas. All three cities presented a growth friendly environment for new businesses and expanding existing businesses. In closing, the full quote from the beginning sounds a little foreboding but “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Only one city had fireworks.

Curt Carlson

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