By Patrick Blennerhassett, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 16, 2023
Heading south on Interstate 15 past Harry Reid International Airport and the Bruce Woodbury Beltway, drivers encounter a mix of undeveloped land with new homes and multifamily complexes littered throughout the area.
Past the Silverton and the South Point, a new residential development has sprouted up four stories — quite high for this south Las Vegas area — and at this point, may look a little out of place.
Ariva, at 11055 Las Vegas Boulevard, features 754 units, billed as luxury apartments, and the whole development looks like it could supplant itself to the Strip or an upscale enclave of Summerlin, with four pools down the middle of the complex. But Silicon Valley-based WTI Inc., the developers of Ariva — expected to be completed by November — are banking on the complex being a bellwether for a new community to crop up and grow in the southern portion of the valley.
Adding extra fuel to the redevelopment of this south Las Vegas area are plans for a $10 billion resort and NBA-ready arena and additional apartments, retail, restaurants and entertainment all near where a long-awaited high-speed rail station — to connect Los Angeles and Las Vegas — could be constructed. If they come to fruition, these high-profile projects could forever change the landscape and demographics of the south valley.
Heidi Westerhoff of Cushman & Wakefield, who is handling the leasing of the units, said the hundred or so people who have already moved in at Ariva are very diverse and a paint a picture of the area’s locale.
“It’s all of the above,” Westerhoff, a senior director at the real estate brokerage, said of the demographics. “We have a lot of white-collar Strip workers, in addition to medical and technology workers, and lots of people working from home. There’s also airport workers and the university. Given the location, we’re basically drawing from everywhere, and it’s really diverse.”
Westerhoff noted the owners of the apartment complex bought the land about a decade ago but construction only kicked off just over a year ago. There was a vision and a plan that this area would undergo a transformation at some point given its proximity to the city’s core and highway infrastructure, she said.
‘South corridor was exploding’
Bob Barnhart, who co-owns Luxurious Real Estate with his wife, Jill, and has been selling real estate in Las Vegas for decades, including properties in south Las Vegas, said this is most definitely true, but this development wave should be billed as a reattempt.
“Before the last real estate crash in 2008-09, that whole south corridor was exploding,” said Barnhart, adding two massive casino and resort projects planned for the area at the time were shelved because of the economic climate. “So not only is this area in a key location, but I think it’s a sleeping giant.”
Westerhoff said Otium, a 47-acre, mixed-use development adjacent to Avria, is expected to break ground this year. It will feature restaurants, retail and an entertainment component where events, festivals and live music could be hosted.
Barnhart said that all of the key components are already in place for a new community to organically sprout up, and it won’t necessarily be all residential driven. He also said that the U.S. economy is still sorting itself out from the wild ride of the COVID-19 pandemic, and until an equilibrium is reached, construction and real estate will not reach their full potential in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s going to be mixed use,” he said, of the future of the south Las Vegas corridor, which the area has been loosely called. “I think you’re going to see gaming in that corridor, but for this to happen, the financial sector has to correct itself before anything first off.”
Westerhoff said Ariva has the good fortune of coming into a real estate market that no longer seems advantageous for homebuyers, or even sellers, but is now favoring, for the time being, a more nomadic option — renting.
“I think the apartment industry is definitely one of the benefactors of higher interest rates,” she said. “Given a lot of people are now being priced out of the single-family home market, or they may just choose to come to a place like this because they are waiting for the wave of high interest rates to pass.”
A watershed moment
Two massive projects slated for just north of Ariva could bring about a watershed moment for south Las Vegas. On July 6, Brightline West announced what it called a “significant milestone” — purchasing 110 acres of land for a high-speed rail station that will connect Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The plot is located just east of Interstate 15, south of Warm Springs Road.
Originally conceived in the early 2000s, the Brightline West project has had more than its fair share of delays and setbacks. But a recent news release for the land acquisition signals the project is happening, with completion expected by 2027. The rail line is expected to serve 11 million passengers annually.
The second project is Oak View Group’s planned $10 billion resort and NBA-ready arena to the south of the station. The arena plan was conceived in the hope of enticing a franchise, an idea that only a few years ago felt like a pipe dream but is now looking like a real possibility. Analysts expect the next two cities to get NBA expansion teams will be Seattle and Las Vegas.
Tim Kelly, a branch manager with Realty ONE Group, who has been selling real estate in the area for 15 years, said these two massive projects would dramatically alter the course of the city, and Brightline’s project would further connect Las Vegas to the populous coast, with an arena right off the doorstep of the station.
“Californians are already our biggest visitor from outside of Nevada, the high-speed rail would enhance that tremendously,” he said. “My understanding is it would create and develop the area to incorporate residential, business, leisure all within walking distance of each other. Las Vegas has needed something like this for a long time.”
Farther down on the western edge of Henderson, M Resort is planning a 375-room hotel tower, 40,000-square-foot convention center and multiplex theater, further showcasing that projects already completed in the area are looking at expanding. The resort is located at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway at the valley’s southern edge.
Barnhart, who once sold a $10 million property in Southern Highlands, which is located just across I-15 from the M Resort, conveyed a sense of cautious optimism about the area and added Ariva’s bet is a big one, and one people should definitely take notice of.
“This is not your typical small apartment complex; it’s over 700 units, four floors and four swimming pools,” he said. “I think the developer is in the right area at the right time. If you go back a little ways, you were unable to obtain land on Las Vegas Boulevard, so I think the developer for (Ariva) has a golden egg sitting there, even if he is a little premature of the market.”