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New Clark County Commissioner Vows Maryland Parkway Upgrade

photo_campus_village_demo.jpg

Courtesy G2 Capital Development

The old Campus Village shopping center near UNLV on Maryland Parkway makes way for new construction.

New Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom wants to give Maryland Parkway a facelift. The commissioner is continuing the work of former Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani who represented the area for several years but was termed out of office.

The busy urban thoroughfare runs from the Huntridge neighborhood in downtown Las Vegas to points south, including Sunrise Hospital, the Boulevard Mall, UNLV and McCarran International Airport.

When it opened more than 60 years ago, Maryland Parkway was the first major commercial corridor outside of downtown, and today parts of the street are starting to show their age.

Segerblom, elected in November, has made improving Maryland Parkway a priority and says the stretch near UNLV can become a model urban environment.

The commissioner said there are long-term projects that could improve the area like improved public transportation but there are short term fixes that could be done immediately to make the road better.

“The first thing we ought to do is pave the road,” he said, “The thing is just a disaster.”

He said County Public Works as already started the process to repave the area in front of UNLV.

Overall, Segerblom’s idea is to turn the whole area into a more livable place for everyone.

Support comes from

“The longer vision is to make it a more livable area not just a street that you drive on,” he said, “People can walk, they can enjoy life. We can develop housing on both sides of the street and ideally have some kind of transportation from the UNLV district to downtown and then maybe to the UNLV medical school and UMC.”

He said he would like to turn the section of the county into something more like Westwood in Los Angeles near UCLA.

“The main part is to make the part east of UNLV part of UNLV, part of the whole campus, and then make it an urban village campus that we can be proud of,” Segerblom said.

Already, the venerable Campus Village shopping center across from UNLV — best known for its series of decorative arches and propensity to flood — was demolished last month. In its place will rise a hotel and office tower nearly 20 stories tall.

The developer of that project and others in the area, Frank Marretti, told KNPR’s State of Nevada that he is interested in redeveloping the area because of the need it will fulfill in the community and at the university.

“I recognized a need that our university really needs to be more transition into an urban environment where we can compete with ASU and UCLA and different schools as far as livability and walkability standpoint goes,” he said.

The area around the university and further north around the Boulevard Mall have long suffered from safety issues; however, Marretti said he believes more development and higher density of people will help decrease crime in the area.

He also believes it will help some businesses that suffer when there is no school. The latest example is Paymon’s Mediterranean Restaurant. The Las Vegas mainstay recently announced it was closing the location on Maryland Parkway.

“It’s a sad part of Maryland Parkway after 5 o’clock basically you have very little disposable income to go to these restaurants and dine,” he said.

Marretti said his projects will bring more density to the area, which means more people will be in the area to go to restaurants, shopping, bars and entertainment venues.

Another major project for Maryland Parkway is the proposed light-rail line. That will be the topic of a series of Regional Transportation Committee meetings this month to collect public comment on potential environmental impact.

Ric Jimenez is the founder of the Maryland Parkway Coalition, which he described as a group of business owners, students and residents all interested in improving the area.

Jimenez wouldn’t speculate on what type of mass transit will work best along the corridor, instead preferring to hear what the public says in public comments, but he does believe that improving transportation is vital.

“Any improvement to transportation up the corridor is a plus, especially if we can get folks to put more money into services rather than into gas and servicing their car,” he said.

He said there is a huge need for improved high-capacity transportation.

While light rail might be in Maryland Parkway’s distant future, Jimenez says there are many projects underway right now that are reshaping the area and not just those at UNLV.

“There is a lot of development,” he said, “Part of it is a perception issue that there is nothing up and down the corridor. When I talk to people, a lot of them haven’t been down there in months and they’re not aware of what’s happening.”

Segerblom admits that improvements along the corridor are going to cost money both from private companies and the public, but he says it’s a choice the community needs to make.

“The reality is either this is a livable city or it’s not,” he said, “We just have to suck it up and say we’re going to raise taxes and spend money to make it livable, make UNLV the place it can be or not.”

He said it is up to the public to decide what direction the city is going in and whether they’re going to be pay more in taxes to get to that spot.

“I’m unwilling to just sit around say, ‘well that’s how it is, so we can’t do it,’” he said, “We can afford anything. We have the lowest taxes in the country basically.”

To that aim, Segerblom is purposing bringing back the county’s redevelopment agency. The agency was dissolved during the Great Recession, but he would like to bring it back to help facilitate more private/public partnerships around the county.

 

Guests

Tick Segerblom, commissioner, Clark County Commission; Frank Marretti, owner, G2 Capital Development; Ric Jimenez, founder, Maryland Parkway Coalition

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