Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sales stopped at off-Strip Las Vegas condo project

LAS VEGAS – Sales have been suspended at another luxury condominiumproject in Las Vegas, as analysts said interest had dwindled inproperties that were not close to the Strip.Letters were sent to nearly 100 buyers at the Curve project, locatedin southwest Las Vegas, offering to refund their deposits or extendtheir contracts by 150 days, said vice president Paula James.Developers had set a 180-day period to sell 75 percent of the unitsbefore beginning construction, but the first tower of the projectsold only 53 percent, or 97 units, James said."We're looking forward to building the project. We're not interestedin selling the land and we're not in a position that we have tosell," she said. "We just need to regroup. We ran out of time."At least seven projects have now publicly folded or stalled in alittle more than a year, a fraction of the more than 100 onceproposed. By most accounts, the skyrocketing costs of materials andlabor have toppled some high-profile luxury condo projects, turningthe market skittish.Sheila and Bob Joseph, business owners from California, bought intothe project soon after it was announced last year and canceled theircontract in January when they didn't see construction beginning asscheduled at the 45-acre site.Construction of the $300 million first phase of the Curve, whichwould include two 18-story luxury condo towers and 12 commercialbuildings, was supposed to start late last year."We were just reading a lot about real estate in that area andtaking a look while we were there at what wasn't moving," SheilaJoseph said. "Not only reading, but the gut feeling we got about theproject."Bruce Hiatt of Luxury Realty Group said his clients had littleinterest in the Curve because of its location at Durango Drive andthe Las Vegas Beltway."It was quite expensive. What could you sell it for later? Myclients decided they'd have better appreciation on the Strip. Theyweren't sold on the suburbia condos, unless they specifically livedin that area. Then it tends to be work-related. But if they're aninvestor, they want to be in the heart of things," Hiatt said.It's much tougher to convince developers about projects in thesuburban market, said Tim Sullivan of the Sullivan Group."My thought is if we had the Curve developed, it would be highlysuccessful," he said. "But they've got to prove it. Right now,there's a lot more hype than reality."