Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 2:26 p.m.
For the past nine months, Henderson has kept mum about plans for a 171-acre, city-owned lot at U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive.
On Thursday, city officials and developers unveiled a master plan for an integrated hospital and retail campus called Union Village. It’s an ambitious, privately funded $1.5 billion project that developers say is expected to generate 17,000 jobs, including construction, on-site positions and those created to support Union Village.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mayor Andy Hafen said. “It’s going to revitalize our community. This is the good news that we’ve been looking for in a really bad economic time … This could be the project that gets us booming again.”
Union Village will be one of the nation’s first integrated health villages, a concept of a mixed-use development anchored by a hospital and senior retirement community. The project will have four components, according to the master plan.
Union Centre will be the focal point of the development, housing a state-of-the-art Rose de Lima Campus operated by St. Rose Dominican Hospitals.
The center will have a rehabilitation hospital, senior wellness centers, specialty care facilities and space for a children’s hospital in the future, said Rod Davis, president and CEO of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals.
Davis said the 214-bed hospital would serve a dual purpose: Replace the more than 60-year-old Rose de Lima Campus at 102 E. Lake Mead Blvd. and help relieve overcrowding at the newer Siena Campus at 3001 St. Rose Parkway.
Union Plaza will be a mixed-used development featuring 300,000 square feet of retail and another 300,000 square feet of medical office space, residential apartments and a midrange hotel. In addition, the European village-style Plaza will include a multiscreen movie theater, a 24-hour fitness and rehabilitation center, restaurants and outdoor cafes. The primary developer of this retail section will be Juliet Cos., developer of the Green Valley Crossings and Lake Mead Crossings in Henderson.
Union Place will offer senior independent and assisted living housing for 1,200 full-time residents. The senior housing complex will be built around a clubhouse with four dining facilities, a spa, theater, several lounges, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and boccie courts.
“This is going to be like Dave and Busters meets Leisure World,” Union Village partner and developer David Baker said. “This is not going to be a place to get warehoused to. This is going to be a place for (seniors) to get connected.”
Union Park will be the cultural center and house the expected $63 million Henderson Space and Science Center, a performing arts center and future education research centers for fields such as nursing. The $1.5 billion cost does not include the space and science museum, which will have its own developers.
Union Village developers said they chose Henderson because Southern Nevada is ground zero for the economic recession and because Nevada faces a health care crisis. Baker quoted a Commonwealth Fund study that found Nevada to be 47th in the nation for the quality of its health system and 50th in children’s health care.
The project will bring better quality health care to the valley, developers said, in addition to changing the perception of hospital centers by adding retail, commercial and residential facilities.
“I personally don’t know of any other project of this magnitude in the country,” Hafen said. “We really do believe this is going to be the model for the future.”
Project developers expect Union Village to attract 15,000 to 30,000 people daily to its campus in one of Henderson’s redevelopment districts. Construction is expected to take four to eight years. Thursday’s announcement marks the beginning of the public input process for the sale and development of Union Village. Henderson City Council will hear the developer’s proposal at its April 19 meeting.
City Financial Manager Mark Calhoun said he didn’t know how much the land would sell for, but estimated it could be as high as $20 million. The land was purchased by Henderson in the early 1990s for a sports complex that never materialized.
“We were hanging on to it for the right project,” Calhoun said. “This is an excellent project for this piece of land.”
If the sale and financing goes according to plan, developers said they expect to begin to finish the city’s efforts to fill in the gravel pit on the property and start grading the land for groundbreaking by the end of the year. The three-phase project is expected to bring in 4,000 to 6,000 construction jobs and an estimated 5,000 permanent jobs.
“We know this is just the beginning of our process, not the end of it,” Baker said, adding there is still a lot of work to be done. “This is not a press pronouncement, but a press announcement.”
Henderson has seen a number of mixed-used developments fail in the recession, and Baker said he couldn’t guarantee the success of the project.
He did, however, say he was confident in his project partners, which include HKS Architects, Hammes Co. health care consultants, the Haskell Co. design builders, the local Penta construction and the Nevada AFL-CIO.
“We think this is a great team and a great project,” Baker said. “This is the right project in the right place by the right people at the right time.” It’s also an investment that will pay for itself multiple times over during its 80- to 100-year life span, Baker said, adding he expects the project to generate $10 billion in tax revenue over its first 25 years.
Hafen said the hospital being the anchor of Union Village would set this mixed-use development apart from other failed projects throughout the valley.
“With that unique twist, it’s going to be farther removed from some of these other commercial developments that may be having a little bit more of a difficult time,” he said. “This will succeed.”