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Developers continue push for UNLV stadium, retail district

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Justin M. Bowen

Silverton CEO Craig Cavileer discusses Majestic Realty’s latest plans for a new arena/retail/residential project on UNLV’s campus in the executive offices at the Silverton on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

Craig Cavileer Discusses New Arena

Silverton CEO Craig Cavileer discusses Majestic Realty's latest plans for a new arena/retail/residential project on UNLV's campus in the executive offices at the Silverton on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Proposed project location

Skeptics will question the wisdom of building a massive entertainment-driven enclave in the heart of the recession-ravaged Las Vegas Valley, but Los Angeles developer Ed Roski Jr. and his Las Vegas point man, Craig Cavileer, are moving ahead with plans for a proposed UNLV stadium-arena, student housing and retail complex.

The effort continues despite the recent legislative failure of a plan that could have helped finance the project or two competing proposals.

The multibillion-dollar UNLV development would be anchored by a $600 million expandable stadium that would employ hydraulic tracks to expand horizontally and vertically to hold 7,500 to 40,000 seats. Architect Dan Meis, who designed the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, employed similar technology to design a 10,000- to 35,000-seat arena in Japan.

Plans also call for 5,000 to 10,000 units of student housing, much of it coming on land owned by developer Michael Saltman, who has pushed much of the past decade for the development of what he has dubbed “Midtown UNLV.”

The project would expand the available stock of UNLV student dormitories from four residence halls and 1,810 units to 5,000 to 10,000 units.

Plans also call for the construction of 600,000 square feet of retail space along Maryland Parkway and Tropicana Avenue, creating what Cavileer says would be a new entertainment district that would draw locals and tourists, while transforming the nature of the UNLV campus.

Cavileer has spoken with Goldman Sachs Managing Director Greg Carey about raising debt financing to help finance the project, which carries a price tag of at least $2 billion.

A bill that would have allowed local developers to compete for the public financing of arena projects died in the final hours of the legislative session despite a flurry of last-minute maneuvering to keep parts of it alive. But after three days of hearings, lawmakers ran out of time and patience to fix problems in Senate Bill 501. The bill wasn’t introduced until the final days of the session.

“This is not about sports. Everyone wants to make this about major league soccer or minor league baseball,” Cavileer said Tuesday. “This is about this community asset, this 330-acre community asset we own here sits in the heart of the entertainment capital.

“But what we need to do is look at the human capital side of this city, and so, ‘How do we import and how do we create talent, keep talent here and grow out talent from the inside out as opposed to relying on 40 million tourists?’ ”

The Roski-Cavileer project is one of three arena proposals in some phase of development in the Las Vegas Valley. Caesars Entertainment is working with AEG and entertainment mogul Phil Anschutz to develop a 20,000-seat arena east of the Strip. A November ballot measure could determine whether Caesars and Anschutz can raise financing for the project through a 0.9 cent sales tax on products sold within a three-mile corridor of the Strip.

MGM Resorts International is pushing a competing ballot measure that would defeat the sales tax plan.

Las Vegas has chosen developer Cordish Co. to develop a downtown arena near the Spaghetti Bowl.

A fourth proposal by businessman Chris Milam to build a multivenue sports complex on land west of Mandalay Bay apparently died when state lawmakers rejected SB501.

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