Senator accuses North Las Vegas of lying over plan to purchase Texas Station land
The City of North Las Vegas has abandoned a proposal to purchase the land that once housed Texas Station — plans that brought pressure and accusations of perjury from Sen. Dina Neal (D- North Las Vegas), who is pushing the city to instead prioritize assistance for the residents of the sinking Windsor Park community.
The tensions were largely hashed out during a joint budget meeting Saturday between Neal, officials from the city and the state Department of Business and Industry, which, through its housing division, had preliminarily approved a $10 million award to the city through the Home Means Nevada housing initiative as part of a financing package for the land deal.
The $10 million award would supplement a proposed $80 million acquisition of 73 acres of land where the old Texas Station and Fiesta were situated near Rancho Drive and West Lake Mead Boulevard — with city officials originally planning to use a combination of funds from the American Rescue Plan, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and city general funds, along with the $10 million from the state, to purchase the land. The project was intended to include 270 units for low-income households.
Jared Luke, North Las Vegas’ director of government affairs, said the city had “exploratory conversations with the Stations’ properties” to examine if it could purchase the land to “increase stock for our affordable housing” and “replace potential lost revenue from those two properties being sold.”
“It became apparent that the price is going to be way too high for the city to move forward on it and the closing time which they were looking at was a little too quick for the city. So the risk was too great for us to move forward on the project,” he said. “We then started looking and discussing with the state — what are our options now in the Home Means Nevada dollars?”
Luke said that with the possibility of revisions to the city’s application for those state funds, the projects’ terms were not finalized, nor had the city received the $10 million.
But state officials said Saturday that they had not been made aware of the city’s plans to alter its land acquisition proposal.
“What we've heard today is a substantial departure from the application that they have,” Terry Reynolds, director of the Department of Business and Industry, told Neal in response to the comments from city officials. “Because of that, we would have to have a dialogue with North Las Vegas to either suspend their application or to enter into a modification of the application. But it appears that this is such a substantial departure that it would make their current application invalid and we would have to determine that.”
Luke indicated Saturday that city officials still hope to use the Home Means Nevada funds to support other affordable housing development.
“The Stations property is currently in the process of being purchased by a buyer other than the city. The city will necessarily have to seek to amend the terms of the [Home Means Nevada] grant award once it receives the proposed agreement or may have to forgo the award if the city cannot locate an alternative site or suitable project plan,” he said.
Amid the lack of clarity about the city’s plans for the purchase, Neal accused city officials of committing perjury during a meeting of the Interim Finance Committee last month in reference to mixed messaging about its plans to buy the land.
Neal pointed to conflicts between documents submitted by the Nevada Housing Division that showed the city’s plans to purchase 73 acres of property owned by Station Casinos and a separate letter from from the city’s government affairs team sent to lawmakers earlier this month that said the city “is not buying the Texas Stations (sic) property, nor has Council allocated $80 million dollars for this site.”
“I believe that the city of North Las Vegas committed perjury in this body,” she said last month, arguing the letter was untrue in light of the city’s planned purchase of the land.
City officials did not provide comment to The Nevada Independent on its land acquisition proposal ahead of publication of this story, despite multiple requests. In an emailed statement sent Thursday, North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown said that Neal's comments were "patently false" and suggested that Neal had "testified inaccurately again last week accusing us of not meeting or discussing Windsor Park with [the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development]."
"This belligerence, animosity, personal attacks, and contention must end, it does nothing to serve our residents," Goynes-Brown said in the statement. "It is my hope that mutual respect and dignified dialogue can become the hallmark of our interactions as we work to lift our city and improve the conditions of our residents."
Regardless, those plans have been abandoned, with the city’s $10 million housing award in jeopardy.
Neal’s comments add to growing tensions between herself and the city. During an April 6 meeting of the Interim Finance Committee, Neal first addressed the city’s plans to purchase the land, questioning how it could try to acquire the land without providing help to residents of the city’s Windsor Park community, where sinking land is causing unsafe living conditions.
“It is just disheartening to me that the city that represents these individuals would find $80 million to do something on vacant land and not even consider those 90 residents who are living in poverty,” Neal said at the meeting.
Neal has also brought forward a bill this session (SB450) to provide new homes for Windsor Park families.
Updated on 5/4/2023 at 4:40 p.m. to include a statement from the City of North Las Vegas.