Sharing the parking pain

UNLV’s School Medicine could be an economic boon for the Las Vegas Medical District. But it also could bring a gigantic parking headache for the neighborhood.

Before the goliath institution turns into bricks and mortar, the city and several stakeholders in the area want to make sure there’s a plan for parking.

And that solution may be an innovative shared parking structure.

Scott Adams, deputy city manager for the city of Las Vegas, said the city just got through a districtwide analysis of parking availability in the area.

“At this point, the district’s in balance,” said Adams. “In other words, the number of spaces equals the demand. It’s obvious when you look at it that the next building that gets built is going to throw that balance off, and we’re going to have to go to structured parking.”

This has opened up the gates to a discussion with many of the neighbors, including larger entities, such as University Medical Center and Valley Hospital. But it’s also brought out members that don’t take up a lot of space, such as Steinberg Diagnostics and residential neighbors in the surrounding area.

That discussion has led to an advisory committee consisting of many of the stakeholders. And one thing on the committee’s plate is figuring out how to pay for a parking structure.

Adams said there has been consideration of following a model that is working for the Texas Medical Center, which he said is the largest medical district in the country. The Texas Medical Center develops and operates the parking for the other member institutions in the area. This is a possibility for Las Vegas’ medical district, Adams said.

Every possible option for planning in the area has to take into account the need for 40,000 new parking spaces should the potential for more employees and visitors become a reality. The medical school entrance is expected to bring more than 24,000 jobs to the district by 2030 — on top of the more than 15,000 already heading toward the Medical District.

UNLV has already made a move toward coming to the district.

“We are in discussions with the county about the use of the old Southern Nevada Health District land — just north of our Shadow Lane Campus — for the new UNLV School of Medicine Academic building. We are hopeful that we will reach some agreement with the county on the use of this land so that we can bring a recommendation for action to our Board of Regents,” said Gerry Bomotti, senior vice president for finance and business at UNLV.

The board would have to approve the location of the new school, Bomotti added.

UNLV has a memorandum of understanding with the county, but the board didn’t make any final determinations at its last meeting.

There is, however, on UNLV’s side, still a possibility of partnering with the district on a future project, even if the district doesn’t become the medical school’s future home.

“Even if our new medical school is not located in this area, we would be very interested in a partnership on shared facilities like a parking garage, even additional food service and recreation facilities,” Bomotti said.

Bomotti said UNLV already has its dental school at the Shadow Lane Campus, along with a simulation lab that includes UNLV and NSC nursing students. There is also the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine campus, which Bomotti said already has plans for expansion, regardless of the decision on locating the UNLV School of Medicine.

Bomotti said it “would just increase our interest in looking at shared infrastructure options like parking.”

This need to look at shared infrastructure would increase if the new school was placed on or near the campus, he added.

Many of the new infrastructure ideas that are being considered come from other parts of the country.

UNLV is not the only large entity with a hunger to grow, but there are also other constraints than just parking in the district.

“We would like to grow services here,” said Kurt Houser, COO of University Medical center. “We understand how landlocked we are within the medical district, but we are looking to grow services, and we would like to do that here. We are researching opportunities to improve our community services all the time.”

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