Southern Nevada’s fight against blight only intensifying


A view of an unfinished and abandoned commercial building at 3110 E Twain Ave. Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

Sun, Feb 22, 2015 (2 a.m.)

Out the back windows of the Creekside Hospice near Twain Avenue and Pecos Road, patients and visitors get a view of one of the valley’s worst eyesores.

When construction started in 2009, the building across the parking lot was supposed to be a medical office. Today, it sits empty, a half-finished monstrosity covered with graffiti.

A gaping hole where the front doors should be offers an unobstructed view through the concrete shell. The site has become a popular shelter for the area’s homeless. At night, the orange glow of bonfires flickers through holes meant for windows.

Continued attempts by the county to force the property’s owner, TRRAC LLC, to finish or secure the building have gone unheeded.

Soon, the county will take care of matters itself. Demolition is slated for later this year.

Fighting blight in Southern Nevada is a never-ending challenge for local governments. Although demolitions are rare, code enforcement officers are out almost every day mowing grass, boarding up broken windows and draining stagnant pools — costs that will be passed on to the owner.

Their task was made more difficult by the tidal wave of foreclosures that swept across the valley, leaving thousands of homes and buildings vacant. Money to pay for cleanups often is hard to come by, and code enforcement staff has been stretched thin by government cuts during the recession.

Clark County plans to pay $64,000 to demolish the building on Twain Avenue. Money will come from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Commissioners approved setting aside $250,000 in federal funding to pay for demolitions in a distressed area of Winchester bounded by Maryland Parkway and Boulder Highway, Sahara Avenue and Flamingo Road.

As with most abatements done by local governments, a lien is placed on the property so when it is sold, demolition and cleanup costs can be recouped, and the stabilization fund can be replenished.

The strategy has been particularly effective in North Las Vegas, the valley city hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.

Officials there have used $400,000 in federal funds to demolish five homes since last summer. Another 30 homes, all at least 50 years old, are slated for demolition unless owners, typically banks, take action, said Greg Blackburn, North Las Vegas’ director of community development and compliance.

“We’re looking at homes that are not habitable,” Blackburn said. “These are homes that are abandoned. One house has caught on fire three times. It’s not worth banks putting in the money to get rid of the home.”

In North Las Vegas, code-enforcement officers have repaired or demolished 1,177 homes and buildings over the past two years as part of a crackdown on blight. The problem is less acute in Henderson and Las Vegas, but those cities also deal with chronic low-level blight and the occasional condemned building.

In Las Vegas, eight buildings in two of the city’s older wards were demolished, while 64 were landscaped, secured or fixed up. Henderson reported 88 abatements in 2014.

Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, whose district includes many older, distressed neighborhoods, said the situation seems to be improving as the economy rebounds but recommended continued action to stabilize communities and protect property values.

“It was at a peak when we had more empty homes and foreclosures, but it still exists — definitely,” Scow said. “Before, the most common complaints were empty homes that had squatters. Now, it seems to be more homes not being taken care of, cars in yards, things like broken windows or garbage collecting in empty lots.”

Click to enlarge photo

A letter is posted to an exterior wall of an unfinished and abandoned commercial building at 3110 E Twain Ave. Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

Back to top


Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy