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Clark County approves $60M land purchase along south Strip

Clark County leaders have approved buying another tract of land along the south Strip, adding to its holdings on a quiet stretch of the casino corridor just outside McCarran International Airport property.

The County Commission this week gave the green light to the Department of Aviation to acquire 17.2 acres near the Diamond Inn Motel and the Little Church of the West wedding chapel for $60.3 million.

According to the county, the acquisition process was “conducted in accordance” with requirements to be eligible for the Federal Aviation Administration to cover up to 75 percent of the purchase through a future grant.

The seller, Lily Funds founder Tom McManus, told the Review-Journal that he expects the deal to close this month.

The Tuesday vote follows the commission’s approval in October to buy around 17.3 acres of mostly vacant real estate — adjacent to the newly acquired site — for $55 million from lender TPG Real Estate Finance Trust.

All told, the Department of Aviation acquired the land “to protect airport operations based on the location and likelihood that it would be developed in the near future,” McCarran spokeswoman Christine Crews told the Review-Journal on Wednesday.

As the landowner, the department can ensure that its development is “compatible with airport operations,” she said, adding officials will “evaluate possible uses” for the new holdings.

One potential option is to provide additional space “to handle the increasing and more diverse air traffic” that McCarran is already seeing, in part because Allegiant Stadium is now in regular use, she indicated.

Along the south edge of the Strip, the west side of Las Vegas Boulevard has megaresorts such as Mandalay Bay and Luxor. The east side has some retail space and a few motels but also empty lots and blighted properties, including the abandoned, partially built SkyVue observation wheel project, whose two giant concrete columns have been sticking out of the ground for years.

But properties along that stretch of the boulevard have changed hands in the past few years, and new projects have come about.

Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame moved the arcade to a newly built facility on Las Vegas Boulevard just south of Russell Road this past spring, and next door, the developers of Dream Las Vegas have said they hope to break ground on the hotel-casino in 2022.

Dream’s developers acquired the roughly 5-acre project site from McManus. When the resort was announced, McManus stated the future would be brighter for the south Strip, saying, “I genuinely believe better days are ahead.”

It also was February of 2020 — shortly before the coronavirus outbreak turned the Strip into a ghost town of closed resorts.

“A month later, the whole world shuts down,” McManus said this week.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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