LAS VEGAS-With major new mixed-use complexes now under way in the city and its suburbs, Las Vegas is seeing an influx of new and expanding retailers, including Rave Theaters and Nordstrom. But a supermarket company may just be generating the most excitement, says a local expert.

Both Town Square Las Vegas in the city and Summerlin Centre on the outskirts are under construction, bringing Rave to and expanding Nordstrom in the market, respectively. Meanwhile, British supermarket chain Tesco will open 13 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market convenience stores in the market in February 2008, part of an entry into the United States that also will include units in California and Arizona. The expansion, largely 10,000-sf to 12,000-sf stores, will give a shot in the arm to a still-growing market.

“Big box users are doing some expansion, but the grocery scene here is stagnant. Tesco is doing deals,” said David Johnson, senior vice president, retail investment services of brokerage NAI Horizon, Las Vegas, who is working with the company. Whole Foods opened its first store in the market last year, and CVS is expanding in the market.

Tesco’s entry to the market is just one of several retailers coming to or expanding in the market. Nordstrom already has been announced as an anchor for Summerlin Centre, General Growth Properties’ mixed-use project outside the city. The store will be its second in the market. Other big boxes are continuing to expand in the region.

So is entertainment. Rave Theaters is anchoring the Town Square Las Vegas mixed-use project being developed by Aventura, FL-based Turnberry Associates, its first unit in the market. Despite its location on Las Vegas Boulevard, Town Square Las Vegas is geared toward residential, rather than tourist Las Vegas. Other Town Square tenants making their market debut include furnishings retailer Robb & Stucky, and restaurants Fogo de Chão and Brio Tuscan Restaurant.

“The local market doesn’t want to shop on The Strip,” said George Radu, Turnberry senior director of leasing. “Las Vegas has been changing, and it’s not just a gambling place.”

The timing for the new projects, and the new retailers, is a combination of market maturation and the length of the negotiations process, Johnson said. In fact, new retail space coming on the market will slow slightly, with construction down to 1.7 million sf this year from 2.1 million sf last year, according to the Marcus & Millichap 2007 National Retail Report.

But the market remains vibrant, driven by population growth. The overall metro area now has about 1.8 million people, Johnson said.

“It takes us 18 months to get [deals] off the boards and get them done,” Johnson said. “This [activity] started two years ago, and the market hasn’t slowed much.”

Still, one major retailer thus far remains elusive: IKEA.

“But it will happen sooner or later,” Johnson said. “We’re not some little place in the desert where people come to drop their dollars.”