Vegas Group Organizing to Fight for Redevelopment

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A coalition of downtown Las Vegas businesses is
raising funds to fight a Culinary Union ballot initiative aimed at requiring voter approval for city redevelopment decisions.

The business group, called the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance, has
hired the influential law and lobbying firm Kummer Kaempfer Bonner
Renshaw & Ferrario, and plans to oppose the June ballot measure in
court.

"We're looking very closely at the initiative and will challenge it on many levels," said Rich Worthington, president of the Molasky Group and head of the alliance. "We need to make sure that the city still has its basket of tricks to land redevelopment projects downtown."

The business coalition formally registered as a nonprofit organization last year. Officials say it may also establish its own political action committee and begin a public relations campaign.

Worthington said the alliance has 35 members, including prominent downtown condominium developer Sam Cherry and casino executives from the Four Queens, Fitzgerald's and El Cortez.

A seven-member executive committee includes representatives of the downtown Arts District, the World Market Center and Forest City Enterprises, the Cleveland-based developer working with the city on
the city hall project.

In a Feb. 2 memo, Worthington asks each alliance business member to pay $5,000 to the legal fund. Nonprofit organizations are asked to contribute $1,500.

Culinary Local No. 226 qualified two measures for the June ballot - including one to have voters decide whether to require public votes on lease-purchase construction projects.

The other initiative opposes a plan for a private developer to build a new seven-story City Hall on Main Street just west of the Regional Justice Center and Clark County jail, and lease it to the city.

The union maintains that the $150 million or more the city would spend on the city hall move would be better spent on schools and other public needs.

The city is barred from using taxpayer money to promote its position on the city hall project, which has been a pet project for Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The business alliance opposes both measures. But Rita Brandin, an executive with Newland Communities, the manager and designer of
the big Union Park area for the city, said the co-called Las Vegas
Redevelopment Reform Referendum was the biggest concern for the
downtown business community.

"It isn't about supporting or not supporting whether a new city hall gets built," she said. "It's because of the (redevelopment agency's) efforts that we've seen the development that we have."

The initiative would repeal the existing redevelopment area plan and would require public votes on future redevelopment projects. The Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency was created in 1986 to attract businesses downtown.


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