Lombardo’s desire for public land sales could boost warehouse economy

Gov. Joe Lombardo’s support for the sale of federal lands to developers would increase the state’s economic resilience and decrease its reliance on tourism, say proponents. It would also likely cement Southern Nevada’s place in the warehouse boom.

“I would like to see us, in coordination with our congressional delegation, promote a more predictable approach to the timely release of federal lands,” Lombardo said in his State of the State address last month. “The disposition of federally managed lands within, and adjacent to, city and county boundaries is a critical component to economic development and affordable housing.”

But with mortgage interest rates depressing new home sales, demand for residential land is down.

“Prices have gone up so dramatically. So there’s a little bit of hesitancy with builders,” says land consultant John Restrepo. “The strongest demand is for industrial.”

Restrepo says the hoopla that accompanied once-raucous federal land auctions has dissipated, in part because parcels are often subpar in terms of location, size, access, and infrastructure.

In 2020, Restrepo identified 19,088 acres in 198 parcels of “potentially developable employment land” in the Las Vegas Valley, including federally-owned parcels that had not been released under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998 (SNPLMA).