Strip condominiums on the (high) rise

Feb 15, 2005 9:56 AM

According to the Clark County Planning Commission, there are between 50 and 60 high-rise condo projects in various stages of development along or near the Strip.

Many of the projects are on acreage that once was considered prime hotel-casino land.

For instance, The MGM Grand in a joint venture with Turnberry Associates is building luxury condos on the site of its former Grand Adventures theme park. Prices for the units range from $350,000 for studio units to $1.5 million for upper-end suites.

The venerable Algiers Hotel across from Circus Circus closed last month so construction can begin on a 45-story condo high-rise that will feature 568 units ranging in price from $500,000 to more than $1 million.

On the site of the defunct Holy Cow brewery and casino, a 900-foot-tall condo high-rise, the Summit, is set for ground-breaking later this year.

Two blocks away on Sahara Avenue just west of the Strip, construction has begun on Allure, a 403-unit condo high rise. The condos will range in price from $200,000 for studio units to $3 million for penthouse suites.

A 50-story luxury condo on 10 acres next to the Palms hotel-casino has been announced. The $500 million project on Hugh Hefner Boulevard will contain 542 residential units, priced from $500,000 to more than $10 million.

Currently under construction is Panorama Towers developed by Lawrence Hallier and Andrew Sasson on Industrial Road south of Harmon Avenue. The project has sold out the 648 units in its first two 400-foot-tall towers; a third tower with 314 units is planned, the developer said.

County planners have also approved plans for a 40-story Sky Las Vegas tower on the Strip near the Riviera hotel, and a 28-story tower on the southeast corner of Tropicana and Industrial (currently the Golden Palm casino and motel).

Even if only half the projects are ever built, that’s still a phenomenal amount of high-rise residential development, according to Larry Murphy, president of SalesTraq, a Las Vegas housing research firm.

Murphy said the main factors driving condo development are the scarcity of raw land, the ability to build hundreds of units per acre, a drought that has squeezed water sources and a burgeoning population that has grown to over 1.6 million people.

The onslaught of condo construction can also be partially attributed to changes in the law favorable to developers, who in the late 1990s stopped building condos because of the threat of construction defect lawsuits. At the time condos were more vulnerable to litigation because of the high number of units in each complex as well as other reasons.

But in 2003, the state legislature changed the laws related to construction defect lawsuits, making it more difficult to win lawsuits against developers. Since then, developers have been building at breakneck speed.

Most of the new condos being built on or near the Strip appear to be priced for wealthy buyers looking for a second home, or perhaps a consortium of buyers who want to own a place they can share throughout the year.

One development, the Manhattan condominiums on Las Vegas Boulevard at Serene Avenue near Silverado Ranch, is actually targeting Las Vegas locals. Prices start at $150,000 for a one-bedroom unit going up to $350,000 for 1,400-square-foot lofts and three bedroom residences.

Still, the prices are comparable to the median new home price, which has skyrocketed to more than $250,000 in Las Vegas. The condos will consist of 44 four-story buildings that will eventually house 700 units. The project will also feature a two-acre park, clubhouse, theater and business center.

"This is going to allow the kind of upscale lifestyle for someone who can only afford $200,000 to $400,000, and they’re going to get things that Turnberry didn’t offer," said Alex Edelstein, Manhattan’s developer.