AR-News: (US-NV) Couple studying Zoo COnstruction win negotiating
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Thu Mar 18 21:59:13 EST 2004
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Couple studying construction of zoo wins negotiating rights
City would own attraction adjacent to Floyd Lamb State Park
By MICHAEL SQUIRES
Las Vegas agreed Wednesday to deal exclusively with a local couple studying construction of a zoo theme park on land adjacent to Floyd Lamb State Park.
The City Council, which had deadlocked 3-3 on the proposal two weeks earlier, on Wednesday unanimously approved the two-year exclusive negotiating agreement with Sher Development.
Ed and Mona Sher have committed up to $2 million of their own money to study the feasibility of a 100-plus-acre nonprofit zoo that the city would own and they would operate.
"I've seen us spend millions on feasibility studies," said Councilwoman Lynette Boggs McDonald. "Here we have a person willing to spend his own dollars. I say we let him."
As envisioned, the $150 million to $200 million zoo would be funded with bonds issued by the city and guaranteed by insurance policies, an arrangement similar to that used to build the Las Vegas Monorail.
Profits from the zoo would go to the city to underwrite the cost of taking over and operating Floyd Lamb State Park.
The Shers, who would operate the zoo, would collect a management fee.
Councilman Gary Reese again expressed concern that the city could be stuck with the bill for Floyd Lamb State Park if Las Vegas decides to pursue the Shers' plan. "Questions need to be answered by the feasibility study," he said.
The Shers, who have lived in Las Vegas for 11 years, came up with the idea for a zoo after recognizing the city doesn't have enough activities for families. Involved in the study are a host of experts, including the owners of Bowmanville Zoological Park, billed as Canada's largest private zoo.
Initial research indicated 40 percent of the local population and 4 percent of tourists would visit an attraction such as a zoo each year. That would equate to about 1.5 million visitors per year.
Councilman Michael Mack, who attended one of the planning sessions, said the study is being undertaken by a "dream team" of experts.
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