Three Questions: Downtown Redevelopment

fremonteast.jpgNobody in the Nevada Legislature knows Downtown Las Vegas redevelopment better than Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, who’s played her own part by rehabbing her mid-century modern home in the Beverly Green neighborhood and steering civic groups dedicated to community-building and preservation. She’s the go-to person on the proposed Assembly Bill 50, which would extend the city’s existing redevelopment plan by 15 years, to 2046.

What are the key components of this bill?

One: The extension, which would allow the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency to refinance debt, lowering its payments and freeing up $2 million to $3 million per year. Two: It gives the agency authority to loan money for qualified projects, rather than just making grants, as it does now. That would provide a return on the principal, creating a revolving fund to finance more projects.

Downtown has gotten a lot of love already. Does it really need more?

The Great Recession delayed the development that was going on, and we need the extension to make up for that. Residents of Downtown can see that it hasn’t had the sustained development you see in the suburbs. There’s still work to be done.

Why is something so local up to the state?

The Legislature created the agency in 1986 to reverse the urban decay in Downtown Las Vegas.

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