Buddhist group with land near the Strip opposes monorail sale


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A few years ago, vacant real estate near the Strip was bought by an unlikely buyer for the gambling and alcohol-packed tourist corridor: a California Buddhist group.

The religious organization has still not built the temple it envisions, but it has put its weight in the courts.

The headquarters of the World Buddhist Association, which owns a large parking lot behind the Sahara Las Vegas, has filed court documents opposing the proposed sale of the bankrupt Las Vegas private monorail system, which has a station on its property. This follows a lawsuit filed two years ago by the religious group against the operator of the monorail and the owner of the neighboring casino over certain responsibilities for maintaining the station.

It is not known how, or if, the group’s actions in the Las Vegas Monorail Co. bankruptcy case will affect the planned $ 24 million sale of the transit system to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, not to mention the ability of the system to resume operations anytime soon. Monorail management suspended service in March, when Las Vegas was closing quickly for fear of the coronavirus outbreak.

But documents from the Buddhist group show that while he did not start building his place of worship, he did not hesitate to take the courts for monorail installations on his property.

Lawyers for the Buddhist group did not respond to requests for comment. Monorail spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman declined to comment on Friday, saying the case was still in court.

“A questionable extreme”

The headquarters of the World Buddhism Association, based in Pasadena, Calif., Acquired 12.2 acres at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, just east of the Strip, in the summer of 2018 for $ 17.5 million of dollars. At the time, a lawyer for the group told me that he wanted to build a Buddhist temple but had “very limited funds” and that there was “no possibility of starting quickly” the construction.

It was one of the most unexpected land deals I have ever covered in Southern Nevada.

“The most authentic temples are built in contemplative contexts,” Dale Wright, a professor at Occidental College specializing in Buddhist philosophy, told me at the time. “While being in public and serving people are admirable qualities, the Vegas Strip takes it to a questionable extreme.”

A few months after the deal was struck, the association sued Las Vegas Monorail and the owners of SLS Las Vegas, as the Sahara was previously known.

Monorail tracks surround much of the Buddhist group’s property, leading to a public transportation system on the east side of the plot, and the train station on the west side is connected to the nearby resort by a pedestrian bridge at the above Paradise.

The Buddhist group claimed in the lawsuit that it is “not obligated to carry out” maintenance or other work on the connection areas at the station, or “incur financial costs” for such work. .

The maintenance obligation was set out in a pre-existing easement. After filing the lawsuit, Las Vegas Monorail said in court documents that the Buddhist group’s “main apprehension” about maintenance was related to an upcoming project to replace the escalator and elevator system in the station, an expected effort of more than $ 1 million.

The monorail company received more than $ 166,000 in the case last June, according to court records. The Buddhist group appealed.

Prepackaged sale

With Las Vegas’ tourism-dependent economy limping under the coronavirus outbreak, the monorail company filed for bankruptcy in September as part of a pre-arranged deal for LVCVA to buy the transit system of 3.9 miles, which runs along the Strip connecting several resorts and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

An attorney for the Buddhist group has said in court documents that he opposes the sale for several reasons. Among them: She has elevators, escalators and stairs to the train station on her property, and the monorail company cannot sell equipment that it “does not own”.

Monorail’s lawyers responded that this argument is “essentially misleading” because the Buddhist group “confuses” ownership of the transit system with certain easements and “seems to not understand” what the company is selling.

LVCVA spokeswoman Lori Nelson-Kraft told me on Friday that the agency would resume monorail operations “when there is a demand from visitors” for the service, and the purchase would allow more. nearby transportation options, as the non-compete zone around the monorail would be able to eliminate.

Of course, as with everything these days, many questions remain. When will the monorail start operating again? Will tourism fully recover in Las Vegas? Will the Buddhist group build their temple? Will life ever return to normal?

Who knows?

Contact Eli Segall at [email protected] or 702-383-0342. To follow @eli_segall on Twitter.


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