Clark County buys land to protect Las Vegas McCarran Airport

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Posted: Dec 10, 2021, 7:57 a.m.

Last update on: December 10, 2021, 11:38 a.m.

Now is a good time to own a property on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. Acreage goes for top prices in the midst of a development boom.

Clark County Las Vegas Strip McCarran Airport
The land being acquired by Clark County adjacent to Mandalay Bay at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip is visible. The county purchases the vacant property in order to protect the adjacent McCarran International Airport. (Picture: Las Vegas Review)

Some of the reasons Clark County is grabbing vacant land in the area: Allegiant Stadium’s potential growth, with MGM Resorts hinting it might be interested in building a casino from top to bottom of Luxor and Dreams Resorts to develop a new casino on the Strip at Russell Road.

The county commission this week approved the purchase of 17.2 acres surrounding the Diamond Inn Motel and the Little Church of the West Wedding Chapel.

The acreage is adjacent to McCarran International Airport. Clark County pays landowner Tom McManus, who made his fortune by founding Lily Funds, $ 60.3 million for the site’s 17 acres.

Clark County officials said the purchase was aimed at protecting the immediate area around Las Vegas’ main airport, which handled a record 51.5 million passengers in 2019 before the pandemic.

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The south end of the Strip is lively.

Allegiant Stadium, just across I-15 from Mandalay Bay, is attracting a new demographic to southern Nevada for NFL Las Vegas Raiders games. Dreams Las Vegas, a roughly $ 500 million project that includes a 527-room hotel, is being built directly adjacent to the airport runway on approximately five acres.

MGM’s CFO Jonathan Halkyard recently said there was enough land in front of the company’s casino on the Luxor Strip to erect a new complex. And there are rumors circulating that MLB Oakland A is considering moving to Las Vegas and building a new professional baseball stadium near Tropicana.

All of this has an airport, and local officials are concerned that any remaining vacant land – like the large expanse the county is acquiring from McManus – will be targeted for further development in the months and years to come.

[The land acquisition is] to protect airport operations depending on the location and the likelihood that it will be developed in the near future ”, McCarran spokeswoman Christine Crews told the Las Vegas Review.

Clark County apparently received a fair offer. Dreams paid $ 21 million for its 5.25-acre land, or $ 4 million per acre. Clark County’s $ 60.2 million transaction is equivalent to just over $ 3.5 million per acre.

Federal Airport Standards

McCarran is the country’s seventh largest airport in terms of passenger traffic. Although the airport enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, recent encroachment by major buildings poses problems for its departing and arriving flights.

The airport is somewhat protected by federal laws. Any development near the airport that plans to house a building over 150 feet in height is subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But the FAA cannot block a project it says will hamper the operations of an airport.

However, a Clark County order requires that any construction plan be rejected if the FAA concludes that such a project would present safety concerns for airliners.


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