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Las Vegas Keeps Growing Up

There have been far more announcements than groundbreakings on high-rise condominium projects in Las Vegas, and that's going to continue because of land constraints, said Chet Nichols, executive vice president of AmLand Development.

"We've seen signs for them starting at $139,000. We should all get in on those if they can really deliver," Nichols said.

Las Vegas-based AmLand, which developed the Park Avenue midrise condos in Las Vegas Boulevard South, has joined with B.S.R. Group to develop One Las Vegas, a high-rise luxury condominium planned at Windmill Lane and the boulevard.

Nichols said AmLand will begin grading the 20-acre site next week and he expects vertical construction on the first two 20-story towers to start in July. Prices start from $275,000 for a one-bedroom, 831-square-foot floor plan and total sales will be about $600 million, he said.

The first release of 200 units is being offered to a private list of "friends, family and faithful followers," Nichols said Thursday during a presentation at Cili Restaurant, a couple of miles north of the proposed project. Some have purchased at other AmLand developments such as Park Avenue, Vila di Lago at Lake Las Vegas and Central Park Estates.

While the cost of building for Las Vegas real estate has increased about 50 percent since last year, AmLand is trying to keep the cost of One Las Vegas under $400 a square foot, Nichols said.

"I'm hearing around the room that we're being perceived as value, with all the amenities of other projects," he said. "You also get a lot of truth back from them. If there's any problems, if they don't like the floor plan or they don't like the location, you'd rather hear it from those faithful."

AmLand is waiting for certain documents to be approved by the Nevada Division of Real Estate, at which time reservations will be converted to "hard contracts," he said.

Herb Press, president of Herbert Gordon Press Design, puts One Las Vegas in the class of other luxury homes in Las Vegas that he helped design, including Turnberry Place, Newport Lofts and Majestic Resorts.

"I think Newport is going to be phenomenal," he said. "We went to California with the owner (developer West Seegmiller) and we bought the highest-quality furniture right from the manufacturer. He didn't have to do it. The value is he's going to do it again."

High-rises have become a niche market for Las Vegas, almost like commercial real estate, said Bruce Hiatt, broker and owner of Luxury Realty Group.

"You've got to do a lot of homework," he said. "You have to understand price-per-square-foot trends, you need to know who the developers are, if they're going to really build this thing, the floor plans, angulation for views. It's not just saying, 'I can get you in and hope for the best.' "

Hiatt said he bought 12 units for clients at Cosmopolitan, a project on Harmon Avenue south of Bellagio, and one for himself at a release for agents only on Monday. He's getting calls from around the world for high rise condos in Las Vegas, including his first client from Shanghai. Most of his clients are coming from Miami and New York.

Nichols said he's working with several investment institutions, including Wells Fargo, Wachovia and Hypo Real Estate Capital, to come up with a financing package that will alleviate some of the onerous requirements for earnest money.

"We sell to some pretty sophisticated buyers. When you've got to put up $150,000 for two years with no return, I don't care how much money you have, when I think about that, I cringe," Nichols said.

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