A Tale of Three Cities

“It was the best of times….”

The new year always seems to start of with an air of enthusiasm and excitement. Listening to the State of the City addresses for Henderson, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas certainly supports that. Though all three cities have similar goals and long range plans, each approach in execution is markedly different. I’m going to concentrate mainly on the issues impacting economic development with respect to property development, construction and real estate.

All three cities are primarily devoting their time, energy and monies toward three issues:

  1. Quality Education
  2. Infrastructure Expansion and Upgrades
  3. Economic Diversification

Quality Education: All three mayors recognized quality education, at all levels, as one of the top factors needing improvement for continued advancement and success. This translates to new schools – public, charter and private – and to new after-school programs. It also means new workforce training programs for new businesses locating in their respective cities and expanding higher education programs to service new business types not presently in the valley. While some of this is out of their jurisdiction with existing school systems, each touted new charter schools, private schools and CCSD schools completed within the past year and others planned for the upcoming year.

Infrastructure Expansion and Upgrades: With added growth and development in all three cities, the mayors acknowledged the need to expand the infrastructure reach and upgrade existing aging infrastructure. They agreed that this includes basic utility services, streets and roadway design, public transportation, technology (fiber, wi-fi, communications, data, etc.) and public amenities (parks, recreation and related services). Henderson and Las Vegas remarked on Smart Cities and Complete Streets as influencers in designing infrastructure and pedestrian friendly, walkable streets with integrated bike lanes and mass transit lanes. Also for consideration are alternative mass transit systems (autonomous vehicles, bike share programs, etc.) to promote sustainable growth. Additionally, each city had a list of new parks, libraries, fire stations and recreation facilities supporting expansion.

Economic Diversification: Probably the biggest topic discussed was Economic Diversification – and this is where they differ in execution. All three cities have recently completed Master Plans identifying growth, types of growth, expected growth locations and the benefits associated with the growth.

City of Henderson:  In her first State of the City, Mayor March identified Economic Diversification in three key areas for development/redevelopment, each of which support their three major growth/diversification markets of Healthcare, New Commercial and Entertainment and SPORTS.

  1. Union Village surrounding area,
  2. Downtown Water Street District
  3. West Henderson

Union Village has become synonymous with Healthcare growth and has a strong anchor with the recently opened Henderson Hospital and related MOB. 2018 plans for growth there include: a Wellness Center, 200 unit independent and assisted living facility, 100 unit memory village, dialysis facility, 8 acres of retail, 2 additional 100 bed hospitals and an acute care hospital.

Downtown Water Street is being revitalized with infrastructure upgrades to support the new commercial, residential and entertainment locating there. 2017 saw a new coffee house, restaurants, and offices opening in downtown as well as Last Friday events and other expanded happenings on the plaza. 2018 has additional office and residential planned for downtown and an expansion of Water Street to include additional entertainment areas and commercial locations.

The big news for Henderson was, of course, the Raiders practice facility and management offices being located in West Henderson. Fifty-five acres will be sold to the Raiders for their facilities, firmly anchoring sports in the West Henderson area. The $75M facility adjacent to the Henderson Executive Airport will house practice fields,  the corporate HQ, Sports MOB and the Operations and Support buildings. In that same area, but independent of the Raiders announcement, a developer recently announced a 110 acre project just east of the M Resort. The Block is a development planned for 3,000 dwelling units in low-rise, mid-rise and hi-rise mixed-use and 500,000 SF of retail, office and entertainment venues.

These areas don’t include the continued expansions in Inspirada, Cadence and north along Boulder Highway. One word to sum up the City of Henderson is EXCITING.

City of Las Vegas: Mayor Goodman began her address on a somber note by touching on the 1 October event but quickly moved forward on a positive note. Like Henderson, the City of Las Vegas plan also has three key areas for development/redevelopment in the areas supporting growth and diversification of markets – Healthcare, New Commercial and Entertainment and SPORTS.

  1. Las Vegas Medical District
  2. Symphony Park
  3. Downtown

The Las Vegas Medical District is slated for major expansion in the healthcare arena anchored by the new UNLV School of Medicine soon to break ground. The existing UMC Medical Center has planned a new tower expansion and a 1,000 vehicle parking structure to be shared by all uses in the area. These major developments have spurred a lot of private developers in the district for mixed used residential, MOB’s and related support developments.

In Symphony Park, the city has released a number of lots making it more attractive to developers and Planning has reviewed two 300+ unit mixed use residential developments, a 1,000 vehicle shared garage and a hotel/casino on the northern most parcel. The new owners of the World Market are looking expand existing facilities to accommodate their trade show and convention growth. This area will also benefit with direct access to I-95 as part of the Project Neon Expansion. Downtown Las Vegas is continuing the expansion of entertainment (casinos), the cultural corridor and residential. A number of downtown casino properties completed remodels in 2017 and the D and Las Vegas Club are renovating/expanding in 2018 along with a remodel and upgrade of the Fremont Street Experience canopy. Mayor Goodman also hinted at the possibility of another El Cortez expansion. Downtown is expanding the cultural corridor to the Neon Museum and will relocate the Natural History Museum to the library (and old Discovery Museum) across the street. Downtown is encouraging and expanding residential downtown with Fremont 9’s 231 unit/ 15,000 SF retail mixed-use development nearing completion. This will help fill an identified 5,500 residential unit shortage in the city.  Not to be outdone by Henderson and the Raiders, the number one sport in the world will have a home at Cashman Field. The Las Vegas Lights will share the field with the 51’s until their new home is completed in Summerlin. (No fireworks or cheerleaders to accompany this item – point goes to Henderson.) One word to sum up the City of Las Vegas is EXCITING.

City of North Las Vegas:   Mayor Lee started his address with a drive to reinforce their city’s financial stability. They have a balanced budget and are no longer junk bond status. He built a strong case that North Las Vegas is easy to do business with and is a great investment opportunity for investors, developers and businesses. The key areas for development/redevelopment are spurred by the abundant availability of land and support their two major growth/diversification markets – Industrial/ e-Commerce and New Commercial/ Entertainment.

1.) The industrial areas from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway north to APEX

2.) Downtown North Las Vegas

3.) Planned residential communities to the west

The city’s  goal is to be the premiere Industrial/e-Commerce area in the region with national distribution centers – even with Faraday (the new “F” work of CNLV) pulling out of Apex. Mayor Lee described the expansion of the Prologis, VanTrust, Amazon and Hyperloop developments and teased a non-announcement of two “game changing” developments coming to Apex in 2018. With new infrastructure extending to Apex for water, developers have fewer roadblocks. Aligned with their push for development is a revamping of city departments to make it easier and simpler to do business there (i.e. self-certification of design professionals).

The downtown area of the North Las Vegas is experiencing a renaissance with a new 14 screen, $75M, Maya Entertainment Center, a new library and a learning campus all connected by a new park –located adjacent to the City Hall development. With an abundance of land, North Las Vegas saw 14,000 residential lots come on line in 2017 and expects a similar number in 2018. Another key point is their plan to grow the tax base through economic development without stealing from other local cities and attracting NEW businesses to the area.  And they are doing it all without a major sports franchise! One word to sum up the City of North Las Vegas is EXCITING.

All three cities presented optimistic, aggressive outlooks for 2018 and beyond. Each addressed opportunities for growth in different areas and offered a growth friendly environment for new businesses and expanding existing businesses. In closing, the full quote from the beginning sounds a little foreboding but “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”* Only one city had fireworks.

* A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1859).


Curt Carlson, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP  |  Principal
SH Architecture
direct 702.341.2230 | ccarlson@sh-architecture.com