Las Vegas Sun

December 3, 2016

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State pays $25 million for about 7 acres in Las Vegas as part of Project Neon highway project

CARSON CITY — The state Board of Examiners has agreed to pay a $25 million settlement to a group of Las Vegas developers for 7.04 acres along Interstate 15 in the vicinity of Charleston Boulevard.

The state Transportation Department negotiated the settlement with a group called Wall Street Nevada LLC that had filed two inverse condemnation suits.

“There was a risk of $100 million exposure” if the case went to trial, said Mike Chapman, a private attorney representing the transportation department. And Wall Street Nevada wanted $30 million.

“This was the best settlement we could negotiate,” Chapman told the examiners board

State Transportation Director Susan Martinovich said this property is part of the $1 billion Project Neon. She said the department will improve the design of the Charleston Interchange at I-15 which is a “huge choke point.” The department said the plans call for it to be a full interchange so north and southbound traffic can get on and off.

And improvements are scheduled for I-15. But not all the work will be done at once.

The developers paid $21.4 million for the property in 2006 and started to make improvements, such as demolishing a building and vacating a street, Chapman said.

The owners claimed they were deprived of the use of their property and there was “some exposure” to the state, Chapman said. The state is asking the federal government to use part of its traditional highway construction funds from the federal government to pay for the settlement. And the city of Las Vegas will be asked to participate, Chapman said.

In other action, the board agreed to an $8.1 million refund to mining companies that made payment and interest in advance. There were 334 claims. And the mining companies have a year in which to ask for the refund.

The board approved a $347,429 contract to hire Compsych Corp. of California to counsel and help state workers to improve their professional and personal lives. The aim is to reduce significant losses in state employee work time, productivity and effectiveness.

So far, 976 employees have taken advantage of the counseling. The employee gets telephone assistance, but if further work is needed there are counselors in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City.

The Board Chairman, Gov. Brian Sandoval, questioned why a Nevada firm was not chosen. State officials said Nevada firms did not perform well in the interviews and testing.

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