Thursday, Feb. 18, 1999 | 11:09 a.m.
The Clark County Commission voted Wednesday to allow as many as four new 18-story, 250-foot-high office buildings to be built in the southern part of Summerlin.
The commission made this decision despite the objections expressed by three neighbors of the future high-rises.
"This is totally inconsistent with the suburban nature of Summerlin," said Neil Opfer, a resident of the neighboring Peccole Ranch development. "There is no argument that Summerlin is an excellent development. But usually when you think of office buildings in the suburbs, you think of buildings a few stories high -- nothing like this."
But Mark Brown, a senior vice president for the developer of Summerlin, Howard Hughes Corp., said this alarm may be premature.
"There are no plans to build these buildings anytime in the next couple of years. All that we were asking for was some flexibility in how we develop the area," he said.
He said the buildings will not significantly obstruct the views of future residents of the area.
County Commissioner Erin Kenny, who represents the area, voted to change the development agreement. Kenny said she appreciates the concerns expressed by residents, but she is convinced the buildings will not affect the neighborhood negatively.
"You are not going to be able to see these buildings unless you are very close to them," she said.
Brown said as homes are built in the area, they will obstruct the view of the tall buildings that residents of various neighborhoods would ordinarily have.
Brown added the southern part of Summerlin is far from nearing its full development capacity. According to Hughes officials, there are now about 400 people living in the southern part of Summerlin today, but in 20 years there may be as many 50,000.
The 1000-acre region for business development is bordered by Charleston Boulevard, Sahara Avenue, Hualapai Way and Desert Foothills Drive.
Among the features in this "town center" development, where the office building will be located, will be a 1 million-square-foot mall along Sahara Avenue. Smaller office buildings are already being erected along Charleston.
But the 18-story, 250-foot-high office buildings will likely be built farther to the west, near the Las Vegas Beltway.
The county staff recommended that the commission allow the taller buildings to be built despite the county's zoning standards, which allow only 100-foot buildings in the area.
Staff said the reason for the recommendation was in part because the office buildings would be segregated from residential developments.
Brown said it will be at least two years before the first tall office building could be built.
"Right now, we are concentrating on residential and retail development. We don't have any tenants in line (for the taller office buildings,)" he said.
Brown described the structures as potential "signature buildings" where major corporations can locate their headquarters.
"These are the kind of buildings that would be named after a particular corporation," he said.
The town center concept is part of an emerging trend in community development, envisioned as an environment in which it is possible to walk from home to stores, entertainment, dining and work.