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North Las Vegas hopes new City Hall spurs development


Leila Navidi

Workers lay the floor of the Development Services Center on the first floor during construction of the new North Las Vegas City Hall building Tuesday, February 8, 2011. The building is expected to be open to public by fall 2011.

NLV New City Hall

The new North Las Vegas City Hall building under construction Tuesday, February 8, 2011. The building is expected to be open to public by fall 2011. Launch slideshow »

New City Hall

Beyond the Sun

Eighteen months after it broke ground, a gleaming new City Hall is rising in downtown North Las Vegas.

City officials are hoping the $142 million City Hall and civic plaza project will not only consolidate most city departments but pave the way for downtown redevelopment.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” said Robert Huggins, the city’s engineering construction manager overseeing the project scheduled to be finished in October. “We’ve had a lot of challenges come up on this property, but it’s a great project for the city.”

Impetus to build a new City Hall, 2250 Las Vegas Blvd., arose from North Las Vegas’ rapid population growth during the last decade. From 2000 to 2010, Nevada’s third largest city nearly doubled its population, and with the boom came the need for more services and larger city departments.

The current City Hall — a short walk down Civic Center Drive from the construction site — was built in 1966. The 40,000-square-foot building, topped with a large, flat roof, was designed with expansion in mind, but concerns about asbestos ruled out the possibility of building up, said city spokeswoman Juliet Casey.

So North Las Vegas constructed modular buildings around city hall and leased out nearby office buildings, creating a campus of city departments around 2200 Civic Center Drive.

“(The modular buildings) were supposed to be 10-year buildings. We’ve kept them for 20,” said Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, assistant to the city manager. “They have really outlived their lifespan.”

The nearly half-century-old City Hall is also showing its age, Casey said, remarking how her windowless office has only two electric outlets.

“It wasn’t meant for heavy electrical use,” she said, recalling having to play musical chairs with her chargers and plugs.

That will not be a problem at the new City Hall, a nine-story, glass-encased building that city officials hope will become the cornerstone for downtown North Las Vegas.

The 210,000-square-foot building is expected to be the city’s first LEED-certified building, Bailey-Hedgepeth said.

“This is a very frugal, very economic design,” she said, pointing out the natural and energy efficient lighting, solar panels and recycled building materials during a media tour of the construction site on Tuesday.

The new City Hall will be much larger than the current one. The expanded council chambers will seat 318 people, more than double the 150-person capacity in the

existing chambers.

It also features 3,000 square feet for about three retail shops. Outside, a grassy civic plaza — funded by a $6.3 million Bureau of Land Management grant — will have a splash pool for children and host outdoor events such as Taste and Tunes.

On the first floor, a large lobby with counters for various departments will allow residents to apply for a business license or pay their water bills. “We wanted to bring all the resources together so we have one central location for everything,” Bailey-Hedgepeth said.

The new City Hall is expected to serve the city until about 2030, the year North Las Vegas’ population is expected to reach 500,000. In that time, city officials said they hope the new City Hall will anchor their vision of a flourishing downtown district.

On Tuesday, looking at the downtown redevelopment district from the top floor of the new City Hall, one could glimpse evidence of the vision city planners have long pushed: a new El Super supermarket and a revamped Jerry’s Nugget casino.

But also visible is a large expanse of empty desert just across the street, where construction on the $120-million Las Flores Shopping Center is stalled, the victim of the economic downturn.

“Hopefully, we’ll grow again,” Bailey-Hedgepeth said, echoing Mayor Shari

Buck’s State of the City address. “When the economy is ready, we will be ready. We will be open for business.”

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