LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — $1 million an acre. That's what a judge awarded the developer for one parcel of land on the vast Badlands golf course.
Land the judge ruled the City of Las Vegas took illegally. Now, we're all paying for it.
The Badlands golf course, now a wasteland, was supposed to have been converted to luxury homes years ago. Developer Yohan Lowie owns it. It's zoned for residential development.
But, the city essentially seized it by blocking development plans.
As a result, it's been locked up in a court battle for five years. But as of Thursday, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
"It's been a long road, so we were really happy that justice prevailed over politics," said Elizabeth Ghanem, an attorney for the developer. "We always knew we had the law on our side, so it was nice to see the court's decision."
The politics behind the city's battle involves a handful of wealthy Queensbridge homeowners who didn't want development on the shuttered golf course behind their homes. Some have since sold their mansions and moved, but the battle rages on.
"It was a nice decision from the court to sort of lay out in more detail what the city's actions were and to confirm that we've always had rights," Ghanem said.
The judge's ruling involves the parcel of land at the southeast corner of Alta drive and Hualapai way.
Judge Tim Williams said the City of Las Vegas prevented the legally permitted use of the property and required the property to remain vacant. Due to the government’s unlawful taking of the land, he ruled the city must pay $34,135,000.
"The judgment we received from the court is just the beginning," said Ghanem. "There will be costs associated with that and interest starting from the date of value, so we expect that amount to be substantial on top of the judgment."
The Badlands battle has created rifts within the city council and been plagued by allegations of corruption, collusion and conflict of interest, as 13 investigates has exposed. All while the land devolved into an eyesore.
13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears: "A lot of people ask us, 'What's going to happen with that land? What can you tell them and what kind of a message do you want taxpayers to hear from your side of the fence?'
Attorney Elizabeth Ghanem: "Well, we're hopeful that this court's decision will encourage the city to come to a final resolution of all matters, which will be beneficial to everyone, including the community."
The city wouldn't talk about the court ruling, citing its practice of not commenting on ongoing litigation.
Thursday's court ruling covers just one 35-acre parcel on the 250-acre Badlands property. There are three more pending lawsuits on the other parcels, so this may just be the tip of the iceberg.