SNS Newsletter – October 2019

Stadium District Plan aims to transform area around Allegiant Stadium 

Aerial view of Allegiant Stadium under construction from July 25, 2019. The area around the stadium is
currently being studied by Clark County. (Photo credit: Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review Journal)

Capitalizing on Opportunity

Today, the area surrounding the soon-to-be-home of the region’s first NFL team consists largely of industrial development.

Warehouses and auto body repair shops are plentiful.

A variety of raw material and parts suppliers, which serve the nearby manufacturers and repair shops, also call the area home.

It’s also very auto-oriented, with wide traffic lanes, narrow sidewalks and limited bicycle-friendly infrastructure.

Not quite the environment most see as the ideal complement to a stadium-going experience.

And while the character of the area has already started to change since construction of Allegiant Stadium began, Clark County is hoping to help guide the transformation of the industrial area into a world class multimodal stadium district.

The county’s planning department is currently conducting two studies – one examining land-use and the other studying transportation – in an effort to capitalize on the opportunity that comes with a new $2 billion stadium.

“We’re really looking at using the stadium as a catalyst for economic development and to re-envision the area,” said Jared Tasko, a principal planner in the county’s planning department, who’s managing both studies.

Developing the Game Plan

The studies will be used to develop a plan that outlines a long-term vision for the stadium district, along with action items and best practice recommendations for infrastructure improvements.


An overview of the boundaries of the stadium-
area studies. The land use study is analyzing a
1.2-square-mile area. The transportation study
is examining a larger 6.6-square-mile zone, as
its scope includes improving connectivity to
areas adjacent to the district. (Source: RTC)

The land use study, which launched in June 2018, is examining how the county can best promote cohesive development while creating a vibrant sense of place within the district through a mix of uses and design concepts.

The companion transportation study, which is being funded by the RTC of Southern Nevada, kicked off in February and will build off the land use vision to provide recommendations for creating a multimodal transportation network that improves access in the area around the stadium.

While the transportation recommendations will likely help football fans get to and from the stadium on game days, especially considering there are less than 2,500 planned onsite parking spaces, stadium access isn’t the primary focus of the study. Both Clark County and the RTC are also concerned with developing a multimodal network that provides safe access to current and future destinations throughout the district as it redevelops in coming years.

To help inform both studies, several stadium districts from around the country are also being looked at. In particular, ongoing planning efforts to redevelop underutilized land around Empower Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver are being followed closely since similarities exist between the two projects.

A Community Vision

A critical component of developing a successful plan for the stadium district will be working with stakeholders and engaging the community, said Tasko.

A technical advisory committee, which was formed to guide the planning process, has already weighed in on preliminary ideas. Key stakeholders in and around the stadium district have been interviewed.

And several open houses and pop-up meetings have been held throughout the community in recent months.

At the latest pop-up event, which took place in early October at a UNLV football game at Sam Boyd Stadium, more than 100 fans took the opportunity to weigh in on what they want to see around the 65,000-seat stadium the Rebels football team will be playing their home games in beginning next year.

While several development scenarios are being explored by the county, early returns from stakeholders and community outreach seem to favor a mixed-use entertainment district with a downtown feel.

“There seems to be a lot of support for a walkable urban environment with bike lanes and mass transit, and bars and restaurants with outdoor seating,” said Tasko. “But it’s still early in the outreach process, so nothing’s been determined yet.”

Looking Ahead

Although the Stadium District Plan is a long-range planning document that will be implemented over numerous years, Tasko is still hoping to have it completed prior to the completion of Allegiant Stadium, which is scheduled for July 31, 2020.

In the coming months, there will be opportunities for the public to provide input at stakeholder meetings and pop-up outreach events, like the one held at Sam Boyd, as the planning process continues.

Following additional technical analysis and public outreach, a preliminary draft of the plan will be released for initial review and comment.

A final draft of the plan is expected to be ready sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2020.

To keep up to date on upcoming pop-up events or to take a survey to share your thoughts on what makes a great stadium district, visit the county’s Stadium District Plan webpage.


City of Las Vegas launches new program to help businesses
finance energy efficiency improvements

Solar panels being installed on Zappo’s Z-Bistro in Las Vegas in 2014. The City of Las Vegas is
implementing a new program that offers competitive financing for energy efficiency improvements to
commercial buildings within the city. (Photo credit: Zappos)

Businesses looking to make costly energy efficiency upgrades to their buildings now have a cost-effective solution available to them in Las Vegas through a new innovative financing program.

Las Vegas recently became the first city in the state to launch a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program to help incentivize energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on commercial properties within city limits.

The program works with private lenders to provide up to 100 percent of the financing at competitive rates for energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings. Costs are repaid by the property owner over time through a special property tax assessment.

The financing can be used to pay for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installation, which can often be cost prohibitive for building owners, especially for many small and medium-sized businesses who lack access to capital for building upgrades.

Financing is available for up to 25 years and can be transferred between building owners.

All commercial and industrial properties within the city’s boundaries are eligible for C-PACE, as are multifamily developments with more than five units.

“By establishing a C-PACE program, the city is hoping to create another tool to allow businesses, tenants, and buildings to become more energy efficient, which will reduce overall operating costs, increase energy efficiency, or reduce their environmental impacts,” said Marco Velotta, an urban planner in the city’s Office of Sustainability.

For a project to be eligible for C-PACE financing, the estimated energy cost savings must exceed the financing amount. This ensures property owners will reduce their energy costs and likely improve the value of their building — all with no upfront out-of-pocket costs.

Velotta expects the program to have positive economic and environmental outcomes for the city.

Economically, the program has the potential to help with the revitalization of existing commercial and industrial properties, generate more and new types of construction jobs in the city, and lead to job growth in existing businesses by improving their bottom line. And from an environmental standpoint, the program can help lead to improved air quality in the region, improved indoor environments, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels within the city limits, according to Velotta.

“This is one of many tools that work in tandem with other goals we are developing as a part of the city’s 2050 Master Plan. A combination of programs, including investor owned utilities, policy, and entrepreneurship, will ultimately work together to make Las Vegas a leader in sustainability,” stated Velotta.

C-PACE was enabled during the 2017 Nevada legislative session. Nationally, more than 30 states have adopted C-PACE enabling legislation.

The launch of the C-PACE program in Las Vegas directly advances strategy 5.5.3 in the Invest in Complete Communities section of the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan, which calls for the region to “establish a regional Property Assessed Clean Energy program to assist commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners’ access to affordable, long-term financing for smart energy upgrades to their buildings.”

Sustainable Real Estate Solutions (SRS) was selected by the city to serve as the third-party administrator of the C-PACE program. SRS, which specializes in partnering with state and local governments across the country to implement C-PACE programs, will handle outreach, education, project underwriting and quality assurance services.

Additional information on the city’s program can be found at https://vegascpace.com/.


Revisiting SNS Opportunity Sites: Assessing progress after 5 years

The yoU development opened earlier this summer on Maryland Parkway across from the UNLV campus.
The mixed-use development includes retail, residential, and office units. (Photo credit: UNLV)

Earlier this summer, residents began moving into the luxury apartment units in The yoU, a newly built eight-story mixed-use development on Maryland Parkway across from the UNLV campus. The project, a public-private partnership between UNLV and a local developer, is the first mixed-use building of its scale in the area.

Across town, the Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD) boasts new infrastructure and complete streets improvements, a result of $73 million in investments made by the city of Las Vegas in recent years. Similar redevelopment efforts are being made by the cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas on Boulder Highway and in Downtown North Las Vegas respectively.

While these locations may seem independent of one another, each was identified in the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Regional Plan as having the potential to showcase the urban planning strategies in the plan and achieve its ultimate vision. These “Opportunity Sites,” which were formally adopted as part of the plan in 2015, include:

    • The Maryland Parkway corridor – from Charleston Boulevard south to McCarran International Airport
    • The Las Vegas Medical District (LVMD)
    • Downtown North Las Vegas
    • Boulder Highway – at the Broadbent Boulevard-Gibson Road intersection in Henderson

SNS Opportunity Sites. (Source: RTC)

Redevelopment activity in these locations, such as new mixed-use development and infrastructure investments, are all examples of implementation of the set of strategies developed for each site that aimed to create new opportunities for jobs, housing and transit.

Over the course of the next year, regional planning staff at the RTC of Southern Nevada, in coordination with regional partners, will be conducting a 5-year review for each Opportunity Site, assessing whether the region is on track for achieving the goals and objectives set for each site.

The review will highlight successes and accomplishments, identify continuing challenges, and retool the strategies for each Opportunity Site to reflect all the changes that have occurred at each site in the last five years.

New streetscaping improvements in the Las Vegas Medical District.
(Photo credit: City of Las Vegas)

“This review process is an opportunity for us to consider how we measure and evaluate the work we and our regional planning partners are doing around the valley,” said Rae Lathrop, regional planning manager at RTC. “By reviewing these sites, we hope to capture and communicate what five years of planning and progress looks like in one place.”

Each review will likely include an updated existing conditions analysis, taking into account new plans and projects that have occurred over the last five years, stakeholder interviews, and updated implementation strategies.

Additional research and analysis around key issues for each site will be conducted in an effort to identify future projects the RTC and jurisdictional partners can work together on to achieve specific goals for each site.

“Reviewing the Opportunity Sites after five years is a chance to revisit and revise their corresponding plans to ensure that the goals are still reflective of the community’s values and that our most pressing problems are still being addressed,” said Lathrop.


RTC updates public participation guiding document

New plan further prioritizes inclusive engagement, enhances transparency

Participants take part in a mapping exercise at an RTC stakeholder
engagement event. (Photo courtesy of the RTC of Southern Nevada).

The RTC of Southern Nevada is in the process of finalizing an update to its public participation plan, which outlines agency policies and tools for conducting equitable community engagement for transportation and transit plans.

The 2019 update, titled “Engaging the Community,” aims to increase agency transparency and updates public involvement policies to reflect the latest federal regulations and best practices.

“Public participation is one of the most important parts of transportation planning,” said Deborah Reardon, a principal transportation planner at the RTC.

“Outreach helps to ensure that transportation plans and investments consider community needs,” she added.

And public input does have a real impact on planning, said Andrew Kjellman, a transportation planning manager at the RTC, citing several recent examples.

Public feedback received during the early stages of the RTC’s “On Board” study resulted in the agency broadening the scope of the project. Rather than just focusing on high capacity transit, “On Board” became a comprehensive mobility study that is now assessing our region’s transportation system as a whole, according to Kjellman.

He also noted that overwhelming positive community feedback for the “ReImagine Boulder Highway” transportation study validated plan concepts and gave jurisdictional partners confidence to fast track implementation, while input received from the bicycling community helped the City of Boulder City prioritize multimodal improvements identified in the “River Mountains Loop Trail Improvements Study.”

To ensure the RTC maintains its commitment to robust and inclusive engagement, new innovative outreach techniques – such as using virtual reality technology to help the public visualize and experience planned concepts – were added to the plan’s menu of outreach methods. Resources from the Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) Community Engagement Toolkit are also incorporated in the 2019 update.

While the public participation plan is largely intended to be used by RTC planners, it also includes pertinent information the public can use to better engage in the transportation planning process. For instance, the plan features a comprehensive listing of RTC committees with updated descriptions and meeting schedules.

The plan is currently pending updates following the close of a 45-day public comment period and online poll that wrapped up earlier this month. A final draft of the plan is expected to go to the RTC Board for adoption in December.

The RTC updates its public participation plan every four years in preparation for a required update to the agency’s regional transportation plan (RTP), a federally required transportation planning document also updated every four years.

“Engaging the Community” was an intradepartmental effort within the RTC, and included review and input from local agency and private sector partners, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), and federal transportation agencies.

To learn more about the public participation plan, visit www.rtcsnv.com/engage.


News Beyond the Valley

Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning, policies, and initiatives can have tangible community impacts.

Minneapolis pilots mobility hubs combining transit, scooters and bicycles

Minneapolis recently launched the city’s first “mobility hubs” to increase convenient access to low- or no-carbon transportation options, especially first mile/last mile options, which could cut down on automobile trips. The hubs include a bus stop, bench, designated bike-share and e-scooter parking and way-finding signage with travel times to points of interest.

 

San Antonio combating urban heat islands by giving away free trees

The city has several programs that aim to incentivize tree planting to increase its urban tree canopy, including one that offers an energy bill rebate for planting trees.

 

In Stockton, early clues emerge about impact of a guaranteed income

A universal basic income experiment in Stockton, California, is nearly halfway over. How has $500 a month affected the lives of 125 residents?

 

Kids raised in walkable cities earn more money as adults

A new study finds that even considering other factors, the walkability of a child’s neighborhood has a direct correlation to increased adult earnings.

 

How Atlanta and other cities can become more edible

Georgia Organics, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, released a recent report studying how Atlanta can have more edible gardens around commercial development and other buildings — and what cities nationally can learn.

 

A glimmer of hope as transit ridership rebounds for DC’s Metro and other transit systems

Transit ridership around the U.S. rose during the second quarter of 2019, suggesting that the billions spent on infrastructure projects and maintenance overhauls in recent years have translated to better service that is bringing customers back to rail transit.