Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004 | 10:37 a.m.
The Related Cos. won't be stopping at its investment in the World Market Center or the 61 acres in downtown Las Vegas -- it's looking to invest in condominium towers and a mixed-use project near the Strip.
The Related Cos. is working on Icon, two glass high-rise condominium towers for the northeast corner of Convention Center Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard, behind the newly opened Ross Dress for Less.
The 47-story towers will employ the use of "smart" technology in each of the 502 condo units, said Jorge Perez, chairman of The Related Group of Florida. Smart technology, and the way it is envisioned in the Icon towers, is often used with handheld computer tablets that control everything from the stove to the air conditioning in houses.
The majority of the units will average about 1,500 square feet and will be sold for about $600,000, Perez said. A unique feature of the building is that two thirds of the units -- or four units of every six per floor -- will have views on both sides of the buildings, affording a view of the Strip and the mountains, Perez said.
"High-rise condominiums here are in their infancy," he said. "I think we bring a unique product that will separate us from the rest of the products."
The buildings will be built one at a time, with construction starting on the first building sometime next year.
The Related Group of Florida is no neophyte to the world of condominium towers. Founded by Perez, it is well known in the industry for its development of condominiums and mixed-use and rental properties, mostly along the eastern coast of Florida. In Florida it has built more than 400 communities, totaling more than 50,000 units, according to the company.
In Las Vegas, The Related Group of Florida and The Related Cos, based in New York, have created a 50-50 venture on all Las Vegas projects, said Marty Burger, executive vice president of The Related Cos.
Among the projects The Related Cos. is known for is the development of the Time Warner Center in New York.
The Florida company, along with its New York counterpart, also redeveloped 72 acres in West Palm Beach into a mixed-use development for the city -- a big factor as to why the city of Las Vegas chose The Related Cos. as its development partner for the 61 acres, Burger said.
Perez and Burger, along with other company officials, were in town Monday and today to meet with city officials regarding the 61 acres and work on plans for other projects.
While still hammering out the details of how to fit Mayor Oscar Goodman's vision of the 61 acres, while at the same time creating a plan that will be accepted in the marketplace, Perez and Burger are working on plans for a mixed-use development next to the Hard Rock Hotel with Las Vegas-based Centra Properties.
The 61 acres is vacant city-owned land across from Clark County Government Center on Grand Central Parkway.
Other ventures include a high-rise condominium in downtown Las Vegas with Sam Cherry, who is also developing the SoHo Lofts. The potential joint venture, submitted as a request for proposal to the city of Las Vegas, would be more affordable than the high-priced projects now being proposed in downtown and throughout the Strip.
"We want to create not just a city for the rich," Perez said. "If the cheapest unit is $500,000, people will keep moving to the suburbs."
Perez said the challenge is in the cost to build a high-rise building, and he said costs are expected to be 30 percent to 40 percent more than in South Florida.
"So what happens is the working and middle classes cannot afford to live there," he said.
Perez said the group also is working on striking up a partnership with Sasson Hallier Development, which is building the three planned Panorama Towers at Harmon Avenue and Industrial Road. The first tower is now under construction.
"We are taking the best of what we've learned in both markets and applying that to Las Vegas," Perez said.
The Related Cos. first showed up onto the Las Vegas scene after it became a partner in the World Market Center. The 1.3 million-square-foot building now under construction at Grand Central Parkway and Bonneville Avenue is the first of seven buildings to be built on 57 acres formerly owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Co. Plans call for there to be an eventual 7.5 million square feet or more of furniture and home accessory space.
Perez said he had a chance to dive into Las Vegas a bit sooner but passed on the offer.
"I was asked to come to Las Vegas, and like an idiot I missed it," he said. "My thinking was, 'Why would you buy condos when you can get a room comped?' "
Perez said the success of Turnberry and the realization that Las Vegas is well located near California and outdoor activities changed his mind.
"The future of Las Vegas is very rosy," he said.
As to whether the Las Vegas market could get overbuilt with condominiums and even the now popular mixed-use centers, Perez said it's always possible.
"Can we be overbuilt for a while? Absolutely. But it happens in every market," he said.