The Right of Way Consultant’s Council Membership Meeting took place in Downtown Las Vegas on November 3, 2023. Having previously presented an eminent domain topic at the 2022 Membership Meeting, I was invited to present two topics during the 2023 meeting. I discussed the continued deployment of the Infrastructure Act as well as the impact of American Rescue Plan Act funds on state and local infrastructure projects. I also discussed the current levels of funding and disbursements under both acts and some pragmatic difficulties experienced by some public entities in deploying the funds for infrastructure.
The other topic presented was of special interest to me. The 2023 Membership Meeting was held at the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas, which was a new venue. In prior years, the ROWCC Membership Meetings had been held on the world-famous Vegas Strip. This year, the Strip was impacted by the inaugural Formula 1 Vegas Grand Prix. ROWCC moved its meeting to Downtown Las Vegas, which unlike the Strip, is actually within the City of Las Vegas.
In particular, the meeting was held on Fremont Street. Fremont Street is the historic main drive of Downtown Las Vegas. It was also the site of a fantastic conversion from a street for vehicular traffic to a covered pedestrian walkway known as the Fremont Street Experience, featuring live entertainment and a spectacular canopy of LED lights that perform light-shows.
During my second presentation, I discussed the history of Fremont Street, as a road that predates the City of Las Vegas; to its early development as the site of the first casinos, phones and elevators in Southern Nevada; through its evolution as Glitter Gulch—named after the seemingly infinite lights illuminating the walls of the casinos on either side of the street; through its decline in the late 20th century; and leading up to its revitalization. The presentation was of special interest to right-of-way and acquisition professionals because Fremont Street was revitalized through economic redevelopment spearheaded by the Las Vegas Downtown Redevelopment Agency. The redevelopment efforts became very publicized when a landowner resisted efforts by the Redevelopment Agency to acquire their land through eminent domain to build a parking garage to benefit the Fremont Street Experience.
I explained how that Fremont Street case was in some ways a precursor to the United States Supreme Court’s landmark Kelo case, as both involved claims that the use of eminent domain was not for a bona fide public use—but was really for private benefit, with any public benefit being too tangential to satisfy the mandates of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. And in both cases, the courts concluded that the governments had shown a valid public purpose for the acquisition, which the courts in turn concluded satisfied the requirement that eminent domain must be used to acquire property for a public use.
After tracing the history of the development and redevelopment of Fremont Street, I discussed the impact that the development of the Fremont Street Experience had on Downtown Las Vegas.
Steve Silva focuses his practice on problem solving. He regularly practices in civil litigation in Nevada and California, including eminent domain and real estate litigation, with a heavy emphasis on appellate litigation, trial ...
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