A select group of home builders, architects and design professionals have been given the opportunity to show what the “dream house” in southern Nevada could look like if money were no object. The results can be found in Street of Dreams in the Venezia neighborhood at the Seven Hills community in Henderson. The street contains nine homes, each as elegant as the collaborating teams could make them. The houses range from 4,400 to 7,700 square feet, with price tags from $1.2 million to more than $2.9 million. However, it is not the square footage that impresses visitors. They are impressed with the “last forever” look created with stone floors, high ceilings and the appearance that every wall is as solid as the Great Wall of China.
Herbert Gordon Press, whose company did the interior design of the 8,408 square foot, $2.5 million Tuscana home, said buyers for homes in this price range know what they want. “They come in and demand it. They are familiar with the amenities available and they want all of them,” he said. “There is a high comfort level here and that’s what people enjoy. That comfort doesn’t mean lots of space. It means well-designed space, decorated to add warmth.” While most of the builders participating in Street of Dreams believed houses in this price range account for 3 to 5 percent of the market, Press said he thinks that estimate is too low. “We are doing some of the condos in Turnberry Place and other high-end condos. They are part of this market and I think it is larger than that. How much larger is hard to say.” He also noted that this market segment is growing briskly while the Las Vegas housing market, in general, is softening. “Home buyers are now taking Las Vegas seriously,” he said. “It’s a place where people want to live.”
Miguel Elias, president of Western States Custom Homes, builder of Reflections, another of the model homes, said buyers in this market is looking for a place to entertain. His $2.8 million house, with 8,005 square feet, has an exercise room, sauna, wine storage and cooler and two courtyards, one with a built-in barbecue. “I envision a family in this home with teenaged children. It is designed for a family lifestyle with a huge kitchen, huge master bedroom and matching master bath. Lots of emphasis is placed on the kitchen and it will be used extensively,” he said. Elias believes this market is mostly people in their mid-40s to mid-50s, since older people don’t generally want a house this big and younger people, for the most part, are unable to afford the $2.8 million price tag.
Vicki Zoot, sales and marketing vice president for U.S. Homes, said La Hacienda Nueva model reflects what buyers want. “It’s old world charm and new world wizardry,” she said. Among the high-tech additions to the hacienda, which looks as if it belongs on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, are sensors in each room that detect movement and adjust the air conditioning or heating accordingly. Should there be no movement detected, the temperature would be changed to save energy, cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. “But not enough to make it difficult to bring the temperature to the desired setting should someone enter the room,” said Chris Waldron, a technician from Panja, of Plano, Texas, the maker of the equipment. “Energy management can save money and the home owner feels comfortable knowing energy is not being wasted,” he added. Another gadget installed by Waldron saves money on lighting. When someone walks from the master bedroom to the master bath, or elsewhere, during the middle of the night, sensors turn on selected lights so one is not groping in the dark. During those dark hours, when a light is turned on, it provides only 87 percent of the light each bulb was designed to emit. Compared to total darkness, this is more than enough light for any purpose and can readily cut annual lighting costs 20 percent, Waldron added.
Zoot said the electronics, including high-tech sound systems and televisions, add a flare to the home that owners delight in having, using, and yes, showing to others. The shower in the master bath, for example, is equipped with stereo speakers for the television or CD player, and also has a steam room and a shaving center. The Jacuzzi tub in the children’s bathroom has a television so the child may watch cartoons while in the bath. Stereo is also available. In the kitchen, the wines are stored at the right temperature and humidity: reds on the left and whites on the right, in an electronic wine cellar. There are more than 1,000 square feet of outdoor living space with a barbecue, refrigerator and loads of counter space in the “summer kitchen.”
Rick Golden, business manager for Stuart Michael, Inc., builder of Serenghetti, a home with 6,326 square feet under the roof, said when a couple is ready to build this kind of home they know what they want. The buyers, he said, are cashing out their 401k’s after a very strong market. They are taking early retirement bonuses and feel comfortable putting a lot of money into their new homes. The model home includes a 1,060 square foot basement where the surround -sound theater, custom billiard table, wet bar and wine room provide more than enough room for entertainment.
“We can fill any request, and frankly, we have to,” he said. “People want comfort and they want to entertain. While we are not seeing the demand for automation we expected, it is growing. They want security and energy management, and they want to control everything from one point, usually the master suite.” He also observed that the demand for formal spaces, like the huge formal dining room, has disappeared. But there must be room for 50 to 60 people to mill about comfortably in the house. Natural stone is a must for the floors. The array of products, he noted, is growing quickly as more companies want to get into this high-end market.
Dan Coletti, vice president of Sun West Homes, builder of a model called El Cortijo, agrees. He said the kitchen still sets the stage for the rest of the house, and buyers want the best. His 6,011 square foot house on the Street of Dreams, at a cost of $2.2 million, reflects that demand for high quality kitchen appliances including the built-in pizza oven and wine cellar. “In homes of this nature, you can’t look at price per square foot. The kitchen can easily run $500 to $600 a square foot, and that’s a lot more than the cost of the other rooms. The trend is to splurge rather than skimp,” he said. Coletti participated in Street of Dreams two years ago and believes it resulted in five or six sales that would not have otherwise developed.
Herbert Press, however, put a little more emphasis on the value of being selected to participate. “At first, when you mentioned you were part of Street of Dreams, it gave you credentials. People were impressed. Now, they ask up front. It has become a benchmark. Because of that, you would want to participate even if you didn’t make any money working on this project. It’s also so much fun because you are free to do what you want,” he added.
Kevin Kass, vice president of the custom home division of Signature Homes, builder of the 6,567 square foot Villa Trieste, at $1.5 million, agreed this segment of the Las Vegas market is growing stronger. “Three years ago we saw few homes being built in this price range. Today there are many, and I see demand for more. It means buyers are coming here to stay and they want everything in the home to be open, open, open. They are easy customers to work with because they know what they want and are willing to pay for it.”
Exteriors, including landscaping and pools, also amaze and delight. There is no such thing as an ordinary driveway at the Street of Dreams. Nearly every home has an entrance enhanced with decorative concrete that looks like old cobblestone, brick or other materials. David Paul of Southwest Design Group said his company did two homes this year. “We add a touch of class that brings about the theme of the home before you walk inside. While the architect or builder may have an idea of what should be done with the concrete surrounding the home, they often end up using our suggestions of color, texture and effect to extend that theme all the way to the street.”
The Street of Dreams will be open to the public through October 29. Street of Dreams, Inc. is a Seattle based company that arranges similar luxury home tours in major U.S. markets.