December 20, 2007

CONTACT:       Melissa Warren – 702-528-6016
                        Eryn Rice – 702-234-6684
                        Faiss Foley Warren Public Relations


For Union Park, an 11-million-square-foot mixed-use urban development in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, 2007 was a year of significant progress, according to Rita Brandin, senior vice president and development director for Newland Communities, the project’s development manager which was retained by the City of Las Vegas in December 2005 to oversee and manage day-to-day development of the site. 

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Union Park

“The 2007 list of accomplishments and milestones for Union Park is impressive,” said Brandin of the $6 billion project taking shape on 61 acres just east of I-15 and World Market Center.  “With construction already underway, the inking of several major deals by credible third-party developers, and the announcement that Union Park is the only development in Nevada to be part of a national “green” pilot program, Union Park is no longer just a plan.  It’s a development whose time has finally come and a project that will eventually become the heart of Las Vegas.”

Leading the list of 2007 milestones is the February commencement of construction on the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, a 67,000-square-foot state-of-the-art medical facility designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.  Dedicated to the research and treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute is expected to be complete by late 2008. It will be staffed by leading medical researchers and physicians all working in tandem to create a world-class research and treatment resource center focused on designing, testing and validating new models of care and services for people with dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

New designs were unveiled during 2007 for two other major Union Park projects: The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the World Jewelry Center.
Designed by renowned architect, David M. Schwarz, The Smith Center’s design was inspired by southern Nevada history and is reflective of the art deco style reminiscent of Hoover Dam and the 1930s era in which it was built. 

“We are all very committed to this being a Nevada building, one that celebrates Nevada materials and uses Nevada colors – a building that is not a transplant from somewhere else,” said Schwarz.  “We believe we have achieved this; that we have come up with the design for an indigenous building.”   

Yet another significant 2007 milestone for The Smith Center was the October 31 announcement that The Smith Center received a $100 million challenge grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to support construction.  The gift will fund the second hall and the education center and becomes available once fundraising is completed for the main performance hall.

The largest philanthropic gift in state history, this landmark grant means that construction of the entire complex can occur simultaneously rather than in phases as originally planned.  The Smith Center includes a 2,050-seat performance hall that will serve as the home the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Nevada Ballet Theatre and Broadway and other touring productions; a 650-seat theater, a cabaret theater, studio theater and education facilities.

The World Jewelry Center, a 1.3-million-square-foot trade tower featuring exhibit space for the domestic and international gem and jewelry industry, also unveiled a new look this year designed by Altoon & Porter Architects.  The World Jewelry Center, which is expected to execute a final development agreement later this year or early 2008, is planned to encompass the corporate offices of hundreds of domestic and international gem and jewelry companies in a 54-story trade tower that will be one of the tallest buildings in Las Vegas.  Construction is planned for 2008 with completion targeted for 2011.  

This year, Exclusive Negotiating Agreements (ENAs) were signed for major Union Park anchor projects, including the Charlie Palmer Hotel, a 400-room boutique hotel developed by City-Core Development and celebrity chef, Charlie Palmer. The luxury boutique hotel is planned to feature a 10,000-square-foot spa, Hollywood-style pool, a rooftop Charlie Palmer fine dining restaurant and other dining venues. 

The Charlie Palmer Hotel is located across from The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and will overlook Symphony Park, a large outdoor park and civic space adjacent The Smith Center.  A Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) is expected to be executed for the project in 2008.

ACCESS Medical, a privately held national real estate development firm headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, also signed an ENA for a master-planned medical office and hotel campus that, together, with the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, will anchor the medical/office district of Union Park. ACCESS Medical’s current plans include a state-of-the-art surgical training center for physicians encompassed in a 160,000-square-foot facility; a 400-room non-gaming, business-class hotel with spa, fine dining, and corporate meeting rooms.  ACCESS Medical expects to execute a development agreement with the City of Las Vegas for this project in May 2008.

Newland Communities also signed a DDA for Union Park’s first residential project.  Current plans call for a 178-unit condominium tower that features a variety of urban-style residences – from condo flats to townhomes.  Situated on 2.17 acres in the center of the Union Park, the project also includes approximately 26,500-square-feet of street-level retail.  Newland expects to close on the property in mid-2008 and begin construction in early 2009.

Forest City, one of the country’s largest publicly traded real estate development and investment companies headquartered in Cleveland, OH, also signed an ENA to develop a  gaming hotel and retail complex on 6.34 acres in the northeast corner of Union Park. A DDA is expected to be finalized by mid-2008.

And finally, Union Park is the only project in the state of Nevada to be accepted into the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Neighborhood Development national pilot program. This means that Union Park will help define criteria for all other LEED- certified neighborhoods and communities throughout the country. The program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is creating a rating system that integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national rating system for neighborhood design. The program is a collaboration between the U.S. Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

According to Brandin, Union Park is Las Vegas’ most authentic urban center given its downtown location, and is being designed primarily as a place for locals. “That, in and of itself, is a unique proposition in a city where major development often caters to tourists,” she said.

“Yet, Union Park, by virtue of its design and amenities, will be exciting enough to attract visitors and tourists, further enhancing the mix of those drawn to the area.”

“Union Park is being designed as a place to live, work, meet friends for dinner, browse through art galleries, take in a ballet or symphony at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, or window shop along street-level shops,” Brandin said. “By design, Union Park will cater to a wide range of residents who all share a passion for the vibrancy and energy of an urban environment rich with stimulus, culture, art and interesting people.”

The progressive and pedestrian-oriented development is planned to encompass more than 11 million square feet of space with a total value of approximately $6 billion.  The land use plan calls for approximately 2.1 million square feet of office and medical space; 5.2 million square feet of residential space in 3,200 units; three hotels totaling approximately 1.6 million square feet in 1,750 rooms; and approximately 365,000 square feet of retail.

“It’s an ambitious project,” said Scott Adams, director of the Office of Business Development for the City of Las Vegas. “But it’s a project whose time has come for Las Vegas,” he said.  “Union Park is the fulfillment of many years of planning and efforts to identify the highest and best possible use for property that is centrally located in the heart of downtown.  Progress at Union Park is visible every day.  We look forward to celebrating many more development milestones in 2008 as Union Park begins to rise out of ground that has been dormant for a century.”

“While 2007 was an exciting year for Union Park in terms of major announcements, 2008 will continue to bring even more tangible progress on the site,” said Brandin. In addition to the completion of construction on the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, the year will include the commencement of infrastructure construction, as well as planned groundbreakings for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and World Jewelry Center.  

About Newland Communities: Newland Communities is a privately-owned company that creates residential and urban mixed-use communities from coast-to-coast. Newland believes it has a responsibility to create enduring, healthier communities so people may live life in ways that matter most to them. Newland currently has nearly 40 communities underway in 14 states. For more information, please visit or


ACCESS Medical Development, 2304 Wesvill Court, Suite 380, Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919.828.1515, Fax: 919.828.1518