The June 2020 Southern Nevada CCIM Healthcare Panel shared insightful knowledge regarding how Las Vegas responded to COVID-19, commercial real estate growth plans in the Medical Arts District and navigating the future through COVID-19, The health care panel had three leaders as panelists: K. Warren Volker, MD, PhD, MS, is the chief clinical officer with Intermountain Healthcare, Nevada; Marcia Turner, PhD, is the chief administrative officer with University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC Hospital); and Bill Arent is the director of Economic and Urban Development Department with the city of Las Vegas.
Q: What is Intermountain Healthcare, UMC Hospital and the city of Las Vegas Development Department’s vision for Las Vegas Medical Arts District?
A: The city of Las Vegas has been focused on improving downtown Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Medical Arts District is part of our downtown. There is a core health district between 214 core acres of land in the LVMA District including: UMC Hospital, Valley Hospital, UNLV Medical School, UNLV Dental School and the UNLV Nursing School. They are long term looking to build out the Medical Arts District to become a core destination. They are looking to combine parcels of land for development, an incentive for increasing density, encouraging mixed use, developing urban corridors, improving transit such as biking, multi-mobile transit and upgrading parking through shared assets in the Medical Arts District.
Q: COVID 19 – HOW DID LAS VEGAS RESPOND?
A: UMC Hospital is the front line for our city for COVID-19. It has ramped up its testing capacity since March from 100 tests a day to the current capacity of 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day. UMC took an existing area of the hospital that was dedicated to physical therapy and relocated it. This area of the hospital was utilized to expand testing capacity to the 10,000 COVID-19 tests. It has partnered with many employers such as MGM Grand, Wynn Resorts and Zappos, to offer testing to all employees prior to returning to work. The hospital has set this up at the Convention Center, which allows them to maintain appropriate social distancing. It is also holding COVID-19 general public testing at UNLV and Texas Station.
Dr. Volker stated that, “We received our first COVID-19 case on March 6. Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and John Hopkins protocols, Intermountain Healthcare worked quickly to open up a drive-up testing center here in Southern Nevada and in Utah on March 20. PPE (personal protective equipment) was an issue but we went to great length to secure these and provide them to their physicians, nurses and all of our health care workers.”
Q: HOW WAS THE OCT. 1 INSTRUMENTAL IN LAS VEGAS BEING PREPARED FOR COVID-19?
A: Turner stated, “We realized (it) after we kicked into gear by opening up our emergency command center, our integrative command center, preparing the hospital by segregating the COVID-19 area(s), EMS system to clean the rooms, infectious disease folks and government entities. We stepped back and said this is the one positive thing that came from the horrible Oct. 1 event. We are more connected; we are more nimble and we are ready to kick into high gear because the Oct. 1 incident wasn’t that long ago. We learned a lot from that incident. It was almost a muscle memory of our health care system we put in place here in Las Vegas. The Nevada Hospital Association was all coming together and knew what to do. Our citizens benefited from this.”
Q: WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM VISION OF THE MEDICAL ARTS DISTRICT?
A: The revenue that is projected to come into the Medical Arts District is estimated at more than $3 billion dollars by 2030. There is a long-term plan to support the UNLV School of Medicine, which has purchased some property south of the planned Medical Education Building. The District is working with the UNLV School of Medicine and the other providers in the District to see how they utilize this land to provide the much needed parking along with a possible mixed-use project with additional medical office and retail. District organizers see a big demand throughout the region for new housing and multi-family projects. The city of Las Vegas has projects within the Medical Arts Districts current improvement plan that are in excess of $80 million. The timeline of these projects range from October 2020 to December 2023.
Arent states, “The city of Las Vegas has a mass transit coming from the airport and UNLV into downtown and merging into the Medical Arts District. There is also a plan for a bus rapid transit project as part of the Maryland VRT Project of 2024.
“Development opportunities in the future inside the Medical Arts District are available in medical office and multi-family. The expansion of the UNLV School of Medicine, UNLV School of Dental and UNLV Nursing will demand more product in these areas,” he said.
Alexia Crowley, CCIM, stated: “The Medical Arts District is in the West Central Submarket. The average rental rate for Quarter 2 is $2.06 per square feet, full service gross. The vacancy rate in Quarter 2 is 6.8 percent, which is lower than the valley average of 10.6 percent.
Q: WILL THERE BE A SECOND WAVE OF COVID19 IN THE FALL?
A: Dr. Volker states: “We are in the midst of this, still. COVID-19 is a Covid virus, it’s a SARS virus. COVID-19 is four times more contagious than the common flu. It was expected that rates would go up as we are bringing people together and we are increasing testing. In the fall it is also flu and cold season. We don’t need to live in fear. We need to be smart. Most people do well when they get the COVID-19. We need to be careful for our immune-compromised population. It is promising that we will have a vaccine around the end of the year to the first quarter of 2020.”
Alexia Crowley, CCIM, NV Real Estate License No. 0049334, is an associate vice president at Colliers International, Las Vegas. She is Las Vegas-based commercial real estate agent specializing in the acquisition and disposition of health care real estate. She has worked in commercial real estate for more than 18 years. She has been a medical practice manager for more than 17 years.