Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 | 5:02 p.m.
A new shopping and parking garage complex years in the making is finally on its way to fruition near UNLV.
University officials and local developer Frank Maretti broke ground for the project this afternoon on a 2.2-acre site on Maryland Parkway across from UNLV’s Greenspun Hall.
The complex, which is expected to be completed in mid-2017, will feature 813 new parking spots, a new headquarters for university police and retail, commercial office and possibly residential space. The parking garage and headquarters could be done as soon as the end of the year.
The effort was the result of a partnership between UNLV and Maretti, who bought the land three years ago and is financing the construction of the project. UNLV is expected to pay him around $30 million over the next 20 years, after which it will own the garage and police headquarters.
“The only way this university will reach its goal to be top tier will be through these types of partnerships,” UNLV President Len Jessup said. “This is exactly what this university needs to move forward.”
For UNLV students preparing to return to classes next week, the news can’t come soon enough. Parking is notoriously hit-and-miss at the university, especially on its busy eastern side around the Student Union, where the opening of an RTC bus station took away hundreds of parking spots in September 2013.
The university has nearly 30,000 students and only around 13,000 parking spots, but school officials have long-term plans to build more parking garages on campus.
Held under a gleaming white tent with a view of the graffitied fences and fading strip malls that largely color UNLV’s stretch of Maryland Parkway, today’s ceremony underscored the university’s efforts to transform the area from economically depressed to a thriving focal point for students.
The project is part of Midtown UNLV, the name officials have given to their attempt to revitalize the corridor by attracting developers who want to build high-density commercial and residential property.
With the exception of some minor landscaping improvements and the Public Education Foundation’s recent relocation into a remodeled furniture showroom near Rochelle Avenue, progress so far has been slow going.
But today’s groundbreaking could be a sign of things to come, officials said.
“We’re thrilled for what it does for the campus,” said Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Michael Wixom. “It’s an exciting time for us to see the campus grow in this way.”