Las Vegas Sun

November 29, 2015

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Downtown arena site may have moved, but to where?

Plans for a downtown Las Vegas arena have definitely shifted gears and moved — somewhere.

Though Mayor Oscar Goodman has talked for weeks about the possibility of a sports arena’s moving from a planned location near Charleston Boulevard and Main Street, no firm alternative has been put forth.

The Sun has asked The Cordish Co., which was brought into a partnership with REI Neon — the development group that last summer won the right to build an arena downtown — to respond to questions about the arena proposal, including its projected timetable, cost and latest possible location.

The Cordish Co. did not respond to the questions.

About the only thing that’s certain is that REI is not looking to buy the acres of land downtown — at least not right now. If the company still were interested, it would have renewed a contract with Wes Myles, who owns four parcels in an 85-acre area just south of Charleston Boulevard and east of Interstate 15.

Myles said Friday that REI recently informed him it would not renew its option to buy his parcels.

Myles doesn’t blame REI, a group he thinks earnestly wants to build an arena. He said REI told him the asking price for the land was too high.

Robert Reel, a land broker who spent years getting parcel owners downtown to agree to sell — if and when a buyer came along — said dramatically changing economics since last summer have cast doubt on the entire project.

Reel added that he isn’t sure whether his assembled parcels would even be chosen by the arena developers anymore. “I just really hope they get an arena downtown somewhere, though,” he said.

In February, REI Neon was granted a two-month extension on negotiations with the city to build an arena. The extension ends Thursday, one day after the City Council meets — a meeting for which the arena issue does not appear on the agenda.

• • •

One item that is on the council’s agenda for Wednesday is a proposal to make permanent eight modular buildings used as classrooms on the grounds of the International Church of Las Vegas, 8100 Westcliff Drive.

Council members’ information packets about the plan will include 17 postcards asking them to reject it.

It’s not the religion that’s upsetting opponents. It’s the food.

Much of the ire, according to the single letter in the information packet, relates to the church’s storage of food in a refrigerated building that abuts the property lines of nearby homes. The comings and goings of delivery trucks from the building, along with the noise from a cooling unit, have raised the hackles of some neighbors.

Church versus homes — the council members will definitely need to be at their diplomatic best.

• • •

Expect a few cracks about historical inaccuracy when the City Council this week considers spending $278,238 for 16 sidewalk medallions and four concrete benches for Casino Center Boulevard between Charleston Boulevard and Colorado Street.

A minor controversy resulted last year over medallions similarly embedded into new sidewalks on Fremont Street, in a redeveloped portion east of the Fremont Street Experience.

Some disputed the accuracy of the medallions. One said the “first hotel” in Vegas was the Golden Gate, which opened in 1906. The Golden Gate opened that year, but it wasn’t the city’s first hotel.

Perhaps city officials have learned their lesson. This time the medallions will be designed with no words. Instead each will be embossed with a retro-looking atomic star.

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