Friday, May 2, 2003 | 11:08 a.m.
Home builders are reporting strong sales at the new master-planned community of Aliante even before the official grand opening this weekend.
As the development transforms northern North Las Vegas, people looking to relocate or buy new homes in planned and age-restricted communities in Southern Nevada are asking about the new community.
Realtor Souky Chanthauong was showing client Nader Afazal around Aliante's model homes Thursday afternoon.
"I bring a lot of clients out here," she said. "I love it, it's beautiful."
Afazal, 30, who bought a home about six months ago in a community south of Aliante with his wife Tranh, said he's thinking about selling his new home and buying one in the master-planned community instead.
"I want to buy here," he said. "These are beautiful houses, and there is less traffic, it is less crowded, and it is probably safer."
Aliante is being developed by North Valley Enterprises, LLC., an affiliate of American Nevada Co. and Del Web Communities. Encompassing more than 1,900 acres, the community will have some 7,500 homes when completed.
American Nevada is owned by the Greenspun family, which owns the Las Vegas Sun.
The first phase of Aliante consists of 10 neighborhoods. Five of Southern Nevada's largest home builders expect to build close to 1,900 homes in the first phase. So far, the home builders have reported more than 480 sales and more than 30 escrow closings.
The length of the first phase will depend on how well the home builders do sales-wise, said John Kilduff, president of American Nevada.
Sales have been stronger than expected, so the selling of parcels for Aliante's second phase has moved up to the end of this year, Kilduff said. The second phase would add 12 neighborhoods to Aliante.
There are three phases in the overall community, he said.
"We've already done the grading and the builders could have models open in the second phase by this time next year," Kilduff said.
The first phase of the community officially opens this weekend with tours, the opening of 35 model homes and grand-opening prizes.
"We expect a tsunami of demand by the grand opening," said Jeff Ward, director of sales and marketing for home builder D.R. Horton. "There will be an embarrassment of riches in how many homes we will sell in the next month."
For the Arlington, Texas-based D.R. Horton, the Tsunami may have already begun.
"We sold 32 homes in April and that broke our sales record for the most sales in a month," said Ward, who's been with the home builder for more than five years.
D.R. Horton is building three neighborhoods in Aliante and is the only home builder involved in the project that has plans to build attached homes in the first phase. The company plans to build 386 attached townhomes and 320 single-family homes, ranging in price from $110,000 to more than $270,000.
Overall, D.R. Horton had sold 107 homes as of Thursday at its three Aliante neighborhoods.
"It was very surprising to us. We knew there was a demand for upper-end homes in North Las Vegas, but we didn't know that demand pool was that deep," Ward said.
Other home builders tell a similar success story.
Chris Haines, president of Del Webb's Nevada Communities, said the builder had sold 256 homes as of Wednesday -- and most were sold without a model for prospective buyers to tour.
"Sun City Aliante started in October and was selling out of a store front at Centennial Shopping Center off U.S. 95," Haines said.
Del Webb moved its Sun City Aliante headquarters to the site in mid-March and the models opened in early April. The first phase of Sun City Aliante will consist of 1,900 homes ranging from $130,000 to more than $200,000.
Haines said that based on current demand, he expects Sun City Aliante will sell 400 to 450 homes a year.
Del Webb's parent company, Michigan-based Pulte Homes, plans to sell more than 300 homes within two neighborhoods in the first phase at Aliante at prices ranging from $150,000 to $200,000. Pulte had sold 30 homes as of Thursday at Aliante.
"The master plan is the big magnet, the big draw," Haines said. "With parks and schools and future shopping sites, it will be an incredible place for people to live."
Anthem, Del Webb's master-planned community in Henderson that includes the age-restricted Sun City Anthem, had a similar draw when it opened in 1998, and many expect the same type of commercial development to spring up around Aliante in the same short amount of time.
"As the project evolves, you'll see retail growth similar to what we've seen around Anthem," John Restrepo, principal of research firm Restrepo Consulting Group, said. "I think within the next two years, we'll see the same type of emergence of retail and commercial development."
Eastern Avenue outside Anthem in Henderson has seen an explosion of growth in the past couple years with restaurants, retail and fast food -- and more is on the way.
The master-planned communities of Summerlin, Green Valley and Green Valley Ranch have seen similar growth of retail inside and outside their borders.
A number of land parcels outside of Aliante's boundaries are zoned for commercial use, but Kilduff expects the majority of the development to occur within the community.
"We have a better location and we are more aggressive so it doesn't wind up around our borders," Kilduff said, adding that two major roads, Interstate 215 and Aliante Parkway, intersect within the community.
Still, North Las Vegas Mayor Michael Montandon expects an explosion of retail around the area, now bordered on three sides by dirt.
"It will be all along Centennial Parkway and through the (Aliante) corridor," he said. "It's pretty exciting. Just today there was a meeting with Vons and Albertsons about how they just have to be up in this area."
About 60 acres of property within Aliante is zoned for commercial use, which includes a 20-acre neighborhood shopping center, a 15-acre parcel for big-box stores and five 5-acre sites. There also are plans for 60,000 square feet of office space.
Some office and commercial development within Aliante will open in 2004, with retail components opening in 2005, Kilduff said.
"We've had substantial amounts of interest on all levels from supermarkets, banks, drug stores, service stations and fast food," he said. "We've been surprised at the amount of interest there appears to be in the retail components."
Tenants will be announced within the next six months, as deals are solidified, Kilduff said.
There also are plans for a 40-acre neighborhood casino, on the east side of Aliante Parkway, bordering proposed commercial development and future Sun City Aliante development.
Kilduff said a partner has not been chosen for the casino. The opening date will be determined by a demand analysis.
"It is several years off. We need more roof tops and traffic to support that type of investment," Kilduff said.
While there isn't any commercial development within Aliante yet, Jessie Stephens, regional sales manager for Los Angeles, Calif.-based KB Home, said that isn't turning people off from buying a home in the community.
"People are realizing this is a brand-new-from-dirt community, and that these are the best prices this community is ever going to see," she said. "With the trends they've had in Green Valley and Summerlin, the people who bought there when it was nothing saw the appreciation. This is what the North Las Vegas area has been waiting for."
KB Home had sold 91 homes as of Wednesday, and its 10 models open this weekend.
"People are loving it out there," Stephens said. "Aliante has done a great job putting a vision in place and people can realize what a great opportunity it is and they are flocking."
About 428 acres of the land in Aliante is designated for recreational use and public purposes, including a golf course, three city parks, and more than 24 miles of lighted concrete trails.
The Nature Discovery Park, a 20-acre park that encompasses a man-made lake and a special area developed to educate children on aspects of archeology and dinosaurs, will be completed in time for this weekend's grand opening.
"The idea was there would be some amenities for the community when it first opened," Kilduff said. "Del Webb has done similarly and we tried to take designs and land planning elements that were successful in other communities and incorporate them here, such as a trail system to the schools that never cross a major street."
Pardee Homes has waited until the grand opening this weekend to sell homes in Aliante, said Klif Andrews, Pardee Homes' vice president for community development.
"We are at the high-end of Aliante and we felt like we needed Aliante to be established ... to sell at the higher price points," he said.
Los Angeles-based Pardee, which has built homes in the neighboring Eldorado Highlands, plans to sell 148 homes, ranging from $220,000 to $285,000, during the first phase of Aliante.
"With the momentum from the grand opening, we should sell 15 homes in the first two to three weeks and at this point our interest list has more than 150 names."