Tuesday, July 28, 1998 | 10:54 a.m.
City Councilmen, representatives from the Tom Hom Development Group and members of the community were on hand to break ground on a $12 million single-room occupancy apartment complex on Eighth Street between Stewart and Ogden avenues in downtown Las Vegas.
Campaige Place, a 320-unit complex, with monthly rent starting at $495, is expected to open in June 1999.
"We named the project after my two daughters, Camille and Paige," Will Newburn, Tom Hom Group president, said. "These apartments will provide a safe place for minimum-wage and fixed-income earners to call home."
The single-room occupancy, or SRO, apartments average 200 square feet and will be similar in size to a college dorm room, Newburn said.
Each apartment will include furnishings, a microwave, a refrigerator, cable TV, telephone and air conditioning. The apartments also will feature weekly housekeeping, a laundry room and gym facilities. Utilities will be paid for by the landlord.
Gary Reese joined fellow councilmen Michael McDonald and Larry Brown in digging the first shovel of dirt at the former site of the Las Vegas Hospital.
"When I first heard of SROs I didn't know what they were," Reese said. "We've had a lot of concerns from area residents about revitalizing the downtown area, and these apartments are going to provide people that work downtown with a safe place to live downtown."
The proposal for the complex that serves those earning between $9,000 and $18,000 annually was introduced more than two years ago but ran into financing snags and a chilly reception from downtown residents.
The funding has been taken care of by U.S. Bank to the tune of an $8.5 million letter of credit for construction and term financing.
Many of the complex's neighbors, who feared that the development would be a magnet for prostitution and drugs, have changed their minds, resident Al Gallego said.
"I visited the SRO in San Diego (Calif.) and it was fantastic," Gallego said. "It was clean, well-managed and had very good security and I hope that after this one gets going they'll decide to build more."
More housing for downtown Las Vegas seems to be needed, according to a UNLV study provided to U.S. Bank.
The research shows that downtown vacancy rates are 4.7 percent for apartments and 2.25 percent for single-family homes. Most vacant units in the area are filled within a week of availability.
Las Vegas' downtown reminded developer Tom Hom of the Gas Lamp section of his native San Diego.
"There are a lot of similarities," Hom, a former San Diego city councilman, said. "When we started in the Gas Lamp section in San Diego it was really skid row and had probably the lowest property values in the city. Now it is thriving and among the highest property (value) areas."
The SRO fills an important gap in housing, according to the developer.
"There is no specific government housing program for minimum-wage earners," he said. "This target group is the forgotten American. The SRO allows single men and women to get a start and gives the retired a secure place to live if they have to go back to work."