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LAS VEGAS-The third and largest building planned for World Market Center here topped out last week having been largely preleased, according to those involved. Completion of the 2.1 million-sf, 16-story structure next year will take the total built space at World Market Center to 5 million sf. It sounds like a lot until you consider that it will still be less than halfway complete on a square footage basis; the estimated $3-billion development calls for eight buildings totaling 12 million sf, which would make it the largest trade complex in the world.

PENTA Building Group, the general contractor named to build the $550-million third building says more than 2,500 construction workers and 60 ironworkers used 16,500 tons of steel to erect the 16-story skeleton. In addition, some 72,000 cubic yards of concrete will be used to complete the building, which will have 130,000-sf floor plates, 34 escalators, 13 elevators and 400 showrooms. Completion is scheduled in advance of Summer Las Vegas Market, taking place July 28 through Aug. 1, 2008.

World Market Center is an integrated home and hospitality contract furnishings showroom and convention complex in Las Vegas, a place where designers and manufacturers lease space to show off their latest products to retailers and other wholesale buyers. WMC was conceived by real estate developers Jack Kashani and Shawn Samson in 1999. In 2004, they brought on the Related Cos. LP of New York to help finance the development.

Rising adjacent to the confluence of South Grand Central Parkway, West Charleston Boulevard and Interstate 15, WMC is near Las Vegas Premium Outlets and the 61-acre Union Park redevelopment, which is slated to house among other things the Jewelry industry’s version of World Market Center. Developer Robert Zarnegin of Beverly Hills, CA is moving forward with plans for a one-million-sf complex on 5.4 acres that would include a 50-plus story trade tower that would house corporate jewelry and gem offices below luxury condos and, next to it, a three-level public space filled with retail jewelry shops, a museum and a café.

The first WMC building, totaling 1.3 million sf, opened in July 2005. The 1.6-milion-sf second building was completed at the start of 2007. The third building got under way in October and is now “virtually fully leased,” says a company source who tells GlobeSt.com that WMC policies restrict him from providing more specific detail about vacancy and availability, such as what percentage of the third building is being occupied by tenants who are relocating from one of the first two buildings in order to expand the size of their showrooms.

The availability created in the first two buildings is seen by WMC as a permanent space opportunity for retailers who have in the past have set up shop annually in the temporary buildings. The room for the temporary buildings will be slowly cannibalized over the next five years as the land is used for construction of the final four permanent buildings, the first of which is slated to get under way next year. All eight buildings will be connected via sky bridges.

The asking lease rates, which were not immediately available, vary depending on the size of the leasehold, the length of commitment and the location within a building. A lease signed for the second building one year ago was in the mid $20s per sf, triple net, according to the lessee, Emerald Home Furnishings of Tacoma, WA, which took about 16,000 sf on the 13th floor.

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