Las Vegas Sun

March 23, 2019

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Algiers cleared for swap talks

Algiers Hotel owners were given the go-ahead Tuesday to begin negotiating with the Clark County Public Works Department on a land swap involving two pieces of Las Vegas Strip property.

Clark County commissioners opted to trade the county's 2.4-acre parcel at Harmon Avenue for the Algiers land at Riviera Boulevard rather than stick to their original plan to auction off the county land and begin the bidding at $21 million.

If the county and Algiers owner Larry Kifer reach an agreement on the value of the Algiers property, Kifer would take over the Harmon land.

Conspicuously absent from Tuesday's meeting was a group prepared to make a bid for the Harmon property when it was scheduled to be auctioned last summer.

Outland Development, derailed by the commission's abrupt decision to consider a land swap, planned to build an observation wheel rivaling the 518-foot-tall "London Eye" in England.

But plans for a giant Ferris Wheel at the corner of Harmon and the Strip are not dead. Kifer's attorney Chris Kaempfer said this morning that if Kifer gets the land from the county, he likely will lease it to another company.

"(Outland Development) is one of the groups we're talking to about potentially using that land," Kaempfer said.

The Clark County Commission's decision Tuesday came after weeks of feuding between Algiers representatives and county Public Works officials over the value of the Algiers' property.

On Tuesday, Public Works Director Marty Manning had been expected to explain why he doesn't believe the Algiers' 3.55 acres on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip is worth as much as a vacant, 2.4-acre parcel at Harmon Avenue next to the Aladdin.

But the conversation never turned to fair market values.

Manning's presentation on the fate of a piece of Algiers property was barely under way Tuesday when Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny interrupted to recommend allowing the land swap.

The motion favored Kifer and Kaempfer -- a major commission campaign contributor. Neither said a word to commissioners during the meeting.

"We're obviously pleased," Kaempfer said after the meeting. "We get to move forward with this."

Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury asked to hear the end of Manning's report, which said a plan to realign Riviera Boulevard through the Algier's land is outdated and no longer needed.

Kenny's motion to direct Kifer and the county to negotiate a land swap passed 4-2.

Woodbury and Chip Maxfield were the only commissioners opposed to trading the Harmon Avenue land rather than receiving cash through an auction.

"For a project (county) staff says we don't need to do, it would make more sense to get the cash for the property we have and use it for a project of priority," Woodbury said.