How the Faraday Future project, even in failure, was a catalyst for North Las Vegas

2017-12-11 | Las Vegas Sun

Dec. 11 --The prospect of a Faraday Future plant in North Las Vegas may be a thing of the past, but officials say the groundwork laid by that failed project will still pay dividends for a city committed to attracting new business.

The electric carmaker once had plans to invest more than $1 billion in a 3.4 million-square-foot manufacturing plant at Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas , but it ran into financial troubles and pulled out of the project earlier this year. In September, the company paid back about $16,000 in abatements it had received from the state. Now, all that is left for the company to do is sell off its North Las Vegas property, and officials with the Governor's Office of Economic Development say there are several prospective buyers.

The Faraday story might seem like a setback to a city still recovering from a brutal hit during the recession, but North Las Vegas Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden says he remains optimistic because Faraday's footprint leaves the city in better shape than it was pre-Faraday.

"One of the most important things they did is pay ( $10 million ) for the engineering and design work on the infrastructure to Apex," Juden said. "Before Faraday, people were unwilling or unable to invest the money to identify what the costs would be for that. Faraday did that. It's not reimbursable."

The city now has a better understanding of the approximately $200 million worth of infrastructure needs related to the industrial complex, Juden said. It also has what he calls "a bigger toolbox" for addressing those needs, thanks to Faraday-inspired changes at the state and municipal level that allow special improvement districts, tax increment financing and streamlined processes for securing funding to attract and develop major projects.

Faraday was a catalyst and in many ways became synonymous with economic development in North Las Vegas . But looking forward to the post-Faraday future, Juden does not think any one company necessarily has to fill the exact hole left behind.

"At one time, Faraday was a large piece of the pie -- but it has become smaller and smaller and smaller," he said.

Apex and Faraday may have the highest profiles, but they are far from the only areas of development or companies making a splash in North Las Vegas .

Amazon this summer opened an 800,000-square-foot fulfilment center -- its second within the city. Other notable national companies with warehousing space include Fanatics, Bed Bath & Beyond and the Honest Co.

Also flying under the radar is the development of the so-called " North Beltway Industrial Park " near the 215 Beltway-Interstate 15 interchange. There, the city is connecting Tropical Parkway to the beltway and adding sewer and infrastructure to previously undeveloped land. Easy access to the freeway and large parcels of land make it ideal for additional warehousing or logistics-focused companies.

"There's a lot of things going on in that area," Juden said. "It will seriously move the city ­­-- it's future tax base."

In some ways, the North Beltway Industrial Park can be viewed as a mini Apex project because it involves a large swath of previously undeveloped land that needs infrastructure improvements to attract new business, he said. Bonds and capital improvement dollars are paying for those improvements.

"It is, in a way, proof of concept," Juden said. "We can take this area and bring utilities to it -- that basically touches on (what is needed at) Apex. The next logical move is for Apex to start getting those services too."

Businesses are taking note of the improvements on the north end of the valley.

"It is hard to ignore North Las Vegas in the industrial arena," said Jay Heller , president of the local chapter of commercial real estate development association NAIOP . "It has become a big part of this market."

According to Heller, by the end of the third quarter, North Las Vegas accounted for about three-fourths of the new industrial square footage in Southern Nevada this year -- that is, 3.8 million of 5 million square feet overall.

The ability to find large, contiguous parcels of land with infrastructure is a huge selling point for the city, Heller said. So too is the concentrated effort city departments have made to streamline or expedite the planning and approval processes for businesses.

NAIOP member VanTrust recently acquired 73 acres near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for $5 per square foot.

"That's difficult to find in other submarkets," said Heller, noting his own recent deal in Henderson , which saw a price point of at least twice that of the VanTrust deal. "It was a different product type ... but for comparative purposes, their cost basis (in North Las Vegas ) is impressive."

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