Las Vegas Sun

March 26, 2019

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Swanky amenities mark apartment surge in Las Vegas, but does demand match the supply?

South Beach Apartments

L.E. Baskow

South Beach, a luxury apartment complex, is being built in southwest Las Vegas, the most popular place for new apartments these days.

A swanky pool area. A sand volleyball court. A dog spa. South Beach, an apartment complex under construction in southwest Las Vegas, plans to offer those perks and more, including fire pits, cabanas, a sports field and outdoor movies.

Its name conjures images of people cruising the sand and partying in nightclubs in Miami Beach — never mind the project’s actual neighborhood of suburban office parks and tract subdivisions, some 2,500 miles away. “Your favorite getaway, your daily dream escape, is now a place within reach, and it’s a lifestyle luxuriously curated for you,” South Beach’s website says.

The 10-acre project, at Russell Road and the 215 Beltway, is bringing life to a parcel formerly owned by a now-imprisoned real estate investor, whose plans for the site went nowhere.

It also underscores Las Vegas’ apartment-construction surge. Amid questions of whether investors are overbuilding, developers are opening a rising tally of rental properties, charging higher-than-average rents and offering lots of amenities, such as game rooms, dog parks and poolside cabanas.

Throughout the valley, about 3,000 new apartments hit the market last year, and 4,500 are expected this year, CBRE Group broker Spencer Ballif has said.

Southwest Las Vegas has perhaps the most residential and commercial development, including apartments, in the valley. Rental projects under construction include:

South Beach: Renderings show a sprawling, grassy courtyard with sleek, poolside furniture; people mingling; and a volleyball game in action.

Elysian West: Just west of the Beltway near Tropicana Avenue, it will boast bocce ball courts, a 1-acre dog park with an obstacle course and an 11,000-square-foot clubhouse with an arcade, a tanning salon and more, its website says.

Evo: On Patrick Lane near Durango Drive, the project will offer a “resort-inspired, rooftop pool” as well as spin classes, yoga, an indoor basketball court and sauna and steam rooms, according to its website.

Brokers say the southwest is a great location for apartments because it’s near the Strip, McCarran International Airport, hospitals and Summerlin. Plus, when apartment developers see projects in the area, they figure it’s a good spot to build.

“Why does Wendy’s build across the street from McDonald’s? That’s kind of the same mentality,” Cushman & Wakefield/Commerce broker Carl Sims said.

New complexes have been filling up, but industry pros have said vacancy rates could tick higher and rent growth could slow amid the flood of projects in the valley — good news for tenants but not for investors. As Ballif noted, many people wonder how deep the rental market really is.

“I just think they’re doing too many at the same time in that location,” he said of the southwest.

Watt Companies is developing South Beach, also called South Beach Resort or South Beach Russell. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company bought the site in 2014, and its plans have called for 220 units, Clark County records show.

South Beach’s website does not appear to disclose the planned rental rates or apartment sizes but says the project is slated to open this fall. Efforts to interview a Watt representative were unsuccessful.

There have been other ideas for the land — in 2002, a developer pursued plans for a 104,640-square-foot shopping center, county records show. Then in 2006, Jamal El Jwaidi, of Las Vegas, bought the site.

Also known as Jean Marc Eljwaidi, he laid out plans for PG Plaza, which was slated to have offices, retail, luxury condos, a boutique hotel, movie theaters and more. But the project, supposedly modeled after Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., died on the drawing board.

According to reports: El Jwaidi filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and was arrested that year. At the time, investigators said he ran a massive real estate scam involving dozens of victims. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison in 2013, after he pled guilty to one count of wire fraud. He also was sentenced in 2014 to four to 10 years in prison, after he pled guilty to one count of identity theft.

State prison records show that El Jwaidi, now 48, is incarcerated in Humboldt Conservation Camp, a minimum-security facility in Northern Nevada.

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