LAS VEGAS-Project financing appears to be the only hurdle remaining for the development of World Jewelry Center, a proposed $927-million, 1.2-million-sf development in this city’s new Union Park redevelopment district that includes 815,000 sf of for-sale office and 139,000 sf (98 units) of ultra-luxury condominiums in a 50-plus-story tower, and 225,000 sf of retail and structured parking. The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday approved the site development plan and a special use permit related to the project, giving the developer all the entitlements necessary to proceed with the project.

The developer is Heritage-Nevada VIII LLC, an entity of Robert Zarnegin’s Beverly Hills, CA-based real estate company Probity International Corp. The development approvals come one month after the city council signed off on the disposition and development agreement for the project. The DAA calls for Heritage-Nevada VIII to acquire the 5.9-site for the project from the city by August 2009 and to commence construction by October 2009, though it can use two six-month extensions to push that deadline back to October 2010. The purchase price is $10.3 million.

However, before Heritage-Nevada VIII can acquire the land it must prove to the city that it has all the necessary equity and debt commitments in place to develop World Jewelry Center. And before it can obtain the debt commitment, it will have to pre-sell at least half of the tower’s space, according to local industry sources. The project’s day-to-day manager Bill Boyajian told in January that he has letters of intent for about one-third of the office space. The residential units have not yet been marketed for sale.

“Our 2008 will be about signing up more buyers; there will be a lot of travel for us this year,” said Boyajian, a past president of the Gemological Institute of America. “We’ll be attending 25 different jewelry trade shows around the world, getting the name out there. There are about 15,000 to 20,000 jewelry manufacturers and dealers around the world and our building will hold between 400 and 500 of them. Robert [Zarnegin] is very confident.”

The development site is located near South Grand Central Parkway, West Charleston Boulevard and Interstate 15. Other project completed, under way or planned in the city’s 60-acre Union Park redevelopment area include the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Charlie Palmer Hotel, and the Access Medical-Kimpton Hotel medical office and hotel campus.

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