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LAS VEGAS-The Hoover Dam Bypass opens in a few years and developers in Northwestern Arizona are ready to capitalize on it. The Mardian family, which already has approvals for a 63,000-home master-planned community in Arizona’s White Hills, 60 miles southeast of Downtown Las Vegas, has listed for $29 million 947 acres along Highway 93 around Pierce Ferry Road, the route to the new Grand Canyon skywalk.

In addition to being tourist route to the Grand Canyon, Highway 93 is a key portion of the CanaMex Corridor, a route that is being upgraded for use as a main trade route connecting Mexico, the US and Canada. When the Hoover Dam Bypass is complete in 2010 or 2011, the time it takes to drive from White Hills to Downtown Las Vegas, which is more than an hour now, will be reduced by 30 minutes or more, making the trip not a whole lot longer than commuting to the Las Vegas Strip from Summerlin, a master planned community on the Western edge of the Las Vegas Valley.

Derek Rafie, Brandon Slater and Tom Ellingson with CB Richard Ellis in Las Vegas have been retained to market the Mardians’ White Hills property. One of the listing brokers, Derek Rafie with CBRE’s Las Vegas office, tells GlobeSt.com that industrial and residential developers are looking for viable alternatives to the Las Vegas Valley, where high land prices have made it increasingly unfeasible to develop traditional industrial space and affordable homes.

The $29-million asking price is representative of the unknown additional investment that will be required bring utilities to the land, which is broken up into multiple parcels scattered among blocks of BLM land. “It’s not a question of is it going to happen, it’s when,” Rafie says. “It’s very early, everyone is trying to figure out utilities. If it can be done [reasonably], I see this [land] becoming a big-box distribution center.”

Rafie suspects the land may be sold off in smaller chunks. The asking prices on a parcel-by-parcel basis range from $6,248 per acre for land not on the Highway to $68,507 per acre for land with freeway frontage. The average price per acre in the Las Vegas Valley during the first three months of the year was just under $800,000 per acre.

Brian Gordon, a principal of Applied Analysis, a locally based advisory services firm says the demand for residential and industrial land in Northwestern Arizona will depend on the timing of the bypass and land price appreciation in the Las Vegas Valley. For the time being, land prices in the Las Vegas Valley have fallen back a bit as a result of the slowdown in the housing market. “It ultimately becomes a question of cost,” he says.

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