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LAS VEGAS-Making a bet on Southwest Las Vegas, the developers of a $1.5-billion, mixed-use plan will be ready in early 2006 to put construction crews on the ground for nearly 18 of 47.5 acres after spending three years assembling the deed-restricted land. The first wave of retail and residential space for the legacy project, the Curve, is half sold out or under negotiation.

“It’s so significant to me that I’ve not even gone to market and I get 20 requests for retail space a day,” Edward Kile, president of the Curve Development Co., tells GSR. “And, that’s conservative.” The sweet spot is the project’s delivering $4 per sf to $5.25 per sf, triple net monthly rents at the bargaining table for its developer. “Off strip, there’s no one in Vegas that commands this type of rent,” he says. As for the condos, he’s predicting the first tower will be sold out by June 30 and the second one by the end of September at prices ranging from the low $400,000 to $4.4 million.

The $300-million first phase contains twin 18-story residential towers, totaling 384 condos ranging from 1,100 sf to 7,000 sf; a dozen retail buildings with 109,653 sf; and four office/flex retail loft-style structures with another 61,201 sf. Kile says the Curve’s suburban location on a well-known bend of the Interstate 215 beltway and the dynamics of the high-density village design are attracting as many local residents as out-of-towners.

“It’s a residential-commercial node that gives people a suburban feel, but an urban lifestyle,” Kile says. “It’s not about neon. It’s not about the Strip. It’s about lifestyle and creating a livable environment that’s conducive for the residents and the people who want to come to shop there.”

Carolyn Boyle, spokeswoman for the Clark County Comprehensive Planning Department, says there’s no other project on the docket like the Curve, which will go up inside the lines of the unincorporated town of Enterprise. “The people there are very anxious to have the amenities and the convenience of this project so they don’t have to drive downtown,” she says.

Boyle says the department recently updated the land-use plan in the southwest sector because so many developers have been requesting non-conforming use permits. At last count, there were 40 applications pending for residential high-rises due to the building frenzy in Clark County. “A lot of these will never come to fruition,” she says.

Perry Muscelli, senior director in Las Vegas for Cushman & Wakefield of Nevada Inc., says the Curve is getting a foothold in the region’s “best and hottest new office market.” Much of the rising office space is medical, a use that was dropped from the Curve’s office component when Kile came on board six months ago.

“He’s riding the wave. He’s surfing with the rest of us,” Muscelli says. “The best thing he did is he assembled land over the last few years.”

Kile won’t say if additional acreage is under contract, but the signs are there that he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve to add to the project. With the second phase still on the drawing board, all he knows for certain is it will break ground before the first stage is put to bed. A first quarter 2007 start tentatively is penciled for the second phase, another $300-million vision.

The project’s first phase is heavily weighted with restaurants–10 to 12. The locally based Mandalay Resort Group has preleased two restaurant locations and a tavern, Kile says. And, he adds, negotiations are under way with “significant chefs” who’ve helped to make Las Vegas into the dining capital of the world. Several restaurateurs are eyeing the retail loft space to do bi-level venues, according to Kile. The high interest from the restaurant world has kept the Curve’s shop space “fluid,” he says, adding what will be available is reserved for high-end, boutique retailers and salons.

The Curve also will have an entertainment district for events like art shows, car shows and even a farmers’ market. The motive, Kile says, is to bring the community together with an integrated project that appeals to Baby Boomers, empty nesters and young couples and professionals who want urban pizzazz and suburban simplicity.

“High-rise condos in the suburbs seem a little bit on the cutting edge,” says Jeanette I. Rice, vice president of market research for Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. “If it’s going to work anywhere, it’s going to work in Las Vegas.”

From Muscelli’s perspective: “Right now, Las Vegas is so hyped up on real estate that almost anything seems to work.” He says more than 100 residential high-rise projects are in various stages of development in the county and its five cities. “The Strip is still the hottest,” he says, citing a recent record sale of a 3.5-acre tract for $26 million per acre. It’s no surprise that the planned use is yet another residential condo high-rise.

The Curve’s backers are Vegas born and raise. “The group has a finger on the pulse of this town,” says Kile, the group’s lone transplant. “As Vegas grows, there isn’t anywhere to go but up and that’s what is happening in key nodes. We are not going to do sprawl anymore. We don’t have to do sprawl.”

The Curve is the brainchild of Klai Juba Architects and MJ Dean Construction. Klai Juba was accorded the 2004 AIA Nevada architecture firm of the year award. His designs include the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Four Seasons Hotel. MJ Dean Construction’s credits include Klai Juba’s Mandalay Bay and Hard Rock projects as well as the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino. The project’s partners are Dan Juba, Michael Dean, Randy Black Jr. and Michael Chernine, favorite sons of a city that never sleeps.

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