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Las Vegas' Premier Resort Condominiums...
closing in on full house
By John Ritter, USA TODAY
LAS VEGAS — Flying into this desert metropolis is as
deceiving as a mirage. From 10,000 feet you see
empty land in all directions and swear the pace of
suburban sprawl could go on unchecked.
You'd swear no end's in sight to subdivisions
stretching for miles beyond the Strip, enclaves of
single-family houses that draw thousands of
Californians and other migrants a year.
Look again. The valley that Las Vegas and 1.8
million residents call home is nearly built out.
Mountains, national parks, military bases, an Indian
community and a critter called the desert tortoise
have Sin City hemmed in. At the current building
pace in the USA's fastest-growing major metro area,
available acreage will be gone in less than a
decade, developers and real estate analysts say.
Yet growth pressure and housing demand won't abate.
Greater Las Vegas will add 1 million residents in
the next 10 years, state estimates say, and hit 3
million by 2020.
"You hear anywhere from a seven to 10 years supply
at our growth rates and the valley's full," says
developer Kenneth Smith of Glen, Smith and Glen. At
least $20 billion in new projects are planned on the
Strip, including 40,000 more hotel rooms, says the
Nevada Development Authority.
A scarcity of land — or just as important, says Hal
Rothman, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas history
professor, the perception that it's scarce — is
driving prices skyward. "The result was a rush," he
says. "The situation is making a new valley around
us, one that will be more crowded and expensive."
Developers who 15 years ago paid less than $40,000
an acre are paying more than $300,000 today. In an
auction of public land that went on the market last
year, a developer paid $639 million for 2,655 acres.
The Las Vegas stereotype of cheap housing, cheap
labor and a limitless supply of cheap desert land is
dying. The metro area has tripled in size since
1986, pushing close to public lands and critical
tortoise habitat. A 1998 federal law that grew out
of a legal settlement to protect habitat drew a
boundary and set limits on future growth. The law
authorized the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to
sell land it owns inside the boundary when Clark
County or its cities wanted to grow. About 75,000
acres were supposed to last 30 years, but two-thirds
has been snapped up.
The rest is being consumed at 6,000 to 7,000 acres a
year, estimates the CEO of Focus One Property, John
Ritter (no relation to the reporter). His company
paid $557 million for 1,940 acres in 2004 and $510
million for 1,710 last year.
Vast cookie-cutter subdivisions, as symbolic of Las
Vegas' extended boom as its megacasinos, will be
consigned to far-flung areas beyond the metro core,
requiring hefty commutes to the Strip and other job
centers, developers say. In the valley, "the big
house on the big lot is more the exception than the
rule now," Ritter says.
Building farther out
Las Vegas builders will go north outside the valley
along Interstate 15 toward Mesquite, and south,
toward Kingman, Ariz., and the site of a proposed
new airport, says Somer Hollingsworth, president of
the Nevada Development Authority. "This is a whole
new ballgame .... thinking like a big city," he
Developers are leapfrogging over BLM land with plans
for big projects, such as 42,000-acre Coyote Springs
50 miles north of here. That's "drive until you
qualify" territory for home buyers seeking
affordable mortgages. But costs of building roads,
sewers and utilities "are incredible," says Steve
Bottfeld, senior analyst of Marketing Solutions, a
local research firm. "Don't look for it to happen in
Las Vegas' real estate market has softened, but not
as much as in the rest of the country. Demand
"Everybody thinks the sky is falling because their
home isn't selling in 24 hours for more than the
asking price like the last few years," developer
Smith says. "That market was white-hot and
Developers don't expect land prices to fall. They're
packing houses in traditional subdivisions so close
together neighbors can practically shake hands out
their windows. Economics are moving developers
toward a slow embrace of trends familiar elsewhere.
Mixing housing, retail
High-rises, shorter "mid-rises" and town houses
aren't confined to the Strip and downtown Las Vegas.
Projects that planners in other cities call "smart
growth" and "new urbanism" are on drawing boards
across Clark County.
That means more units to an acre and a variety of
housing types and architectural styles, tiny yards
or no yards but generous public spaces, narrow
one-way streets that slow traffic, neighborhood
designs that promote walking and old-fashioned
alleys with garages in back instead of showcased out
"This isn't something that's trickling down, it's
flowing down, top to bottom, fast," Bottfeld says.
"It's the Manhattanization of Las Vegas."
Focus One has three new urbanism projects in design.
"It's like Southern California, New York, San
Francisco and any other place with a very
constrained supply of land and a lot of demand,"
"Mixed use" is now in vogue — projects that blend
housing, retail and entertainment and cut down on
driving. Sullivan Square will be built on that
model: 1,300 units in 20-story high-rises on 16.5
acres off the Interstate 215 beltway, 6 miles from
"It's very Old World, very European," says Marc
Medrano, a casino designer who bought a 17th-floor
unit because he got tired of maintaining a big yard
at his house on a golf course. "It's like a
self-contained walking community," he says. "You
could go to the gym, go to the bank, go to the
butcher, get your lashes tinted, whatever."
Consumers don't resist because most Las Vegans are
from someplace else, Smith says. "They've seen it,
they know it, they're comfortable with it," he says.
"We hear people say, 'I never thought it would
happen here. I've been waiting for it.' "
Since Clark County passed zoning changes that
promote higher density, more than 80 projects have
been approved in the past two years. "This is the
time to be visionary, to do things that urban areas
seem to do historically, which is become more
dense," says Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid.
Las Vegas Real Estate
Vegas real estate offers a variety of lifestyle
opportunities for the 5000+ primary residents who
choose to relocate to Las Vegas each month, those
who are looking for a Las Vegas retirement
community, the vacation home buyers seeking a new
Las Vegas high rise condo
Las Vegas golf course home,
a hotel-condo near the Las
the young professionals seeking a trendy & modern
new Las Vegas loft , and the Las Vegas real estate
investor looking for a viable
Las Vegas preconstruction real
With the entry of
MGM City Center Las Vegas
into the Las Vegas luxury real estate market, luxury
high rise condominium living on the Las Vegas strip
will now be possible. The Las Vegas strip has
previously been a tourist only area.
MGM City Center Las Vegas
SKY Las Vegas
high rise condominiums will now make it possible for
people to own a high rise condominium right on the
Las Vegas real estate
offer a unique Las Vegas real estate investment
opportunity, as well as a luxury high rise condo
lifestyle second to none in urban living.
MGM City Center Las
Vegas, when completed at the end of 2009, will
create 12,000 new jobs. Preconstruction condos such
L5 Las Vegas Lofts
are being built on
the south strip, just 4 miles south of Mandalay Bay.
These hip, modern, totally upgraded lofts, offer
those who work on the strip an amazing luxury
lifestyle and a unique architectural design that is
a first in
Las Vegas real estate.
Investors should not be gun-shy of
participating in Las Vegas real estate at this time
- just the opposite. All statistics for Las Vegas
job growth, unemployment and population increase
point to a strong economy. With the recent
increased real estate appreciation and the
affordability of Las Vegas real estate declining,
the Las Vegas real estate rental market should be
getting stronger each year.
The high rise condo & lofts segment
of the Las Vegas real estate market, is a different
sector. Luxury high rises are in demand from the
baby boomer generation to the young professionals.
Hotel-Condos such as the
Cosmopolitan, MGM City Center's Vdara, Trump Towers
are new to Las Vegas real estate.
with the Stark Team to sift thru the many luxury Las
Vegas real estate opportunities that abound in