Anyone who has traveled much or lived in other major cities around the world, such as Chicago, Miami, London, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere, knows that high-rise condominium complexes are common in such cities — especially major destination resorts or vacation areas. Miami has its Santa Maria and Bristol Towers complexes, while high-rise condo complexes dot the horizon on South Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, throughout Manhattan and in other major U.S. and foreign cities.
However, until as recently as late 1990s there were virtually no luxury high-rise condominium complexes in the Las Vegas area. A few developments, including Regency Towers at the Las Vegas Country Club, offered some degree of exclusivity and opulence for Southern Nevada’s elite. However, an entirely new kind of development has brought “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” to condo living. The two major luxury high-rise condominium towers that have recently blossomed in Las Vegas— Turnberry Place and Park Towers — are among the most luxurious, beautiful and finely-appointed properties of their kind in the world.
Turnberry has completed one 38-story tower on 15 acres at the corner of Paradise Road and Riviera Boulevard opposite the Las Vegas Hilton, and construction is well underway on the second of four towers planned for the property. Turnberry’s sales associates report that only a limited number of units are still available in the second tower, and reservations are already being taken for the third building. About 85 percent of the units at Park Towers, two 20-story buildings located at the Hughes Center, have been sold.
In addition, the owners of Turnberry Place have already announced plans to build another high-rise development — Madison Towers — right across the street from Turnberry Place on Paradise Road. An August 2001 starting date is anticipated for construction of this $250 million project.
Why high-rise condos in Las Vegas? According to Jeffrey Soffer, principal and vice president of Turnberry Associates, Las Vegas is ideally suited for high-rise condos because it is a destination resort/vacation area. People who routinely travel to destination cities, either on business or for pleasure, like to have a place of their own when they arrive, a place that is secured and maintained when they are away. It also makes economic sense for corporations to purchase condominiums in cities where traveling executives often visit, so they will have a place to stay, as well to meet with others and entertain informally.
Likewise, said Irwin Molasky, developer of Park Towers, more and more people are opting for the carefree lifestyle that upscale, high-rise condominiums offer. This is especially true of retirees, who prefer a lifestyle that is secure from unwanted intruders and free from the maintenance and headaches normally associated with home ownership.
The only thing Miami has that Las Vegas lacks, say the developers, is the ocean, “But we have a different — and many people would say a better — kind of ocean. We call our ocean, ‘The Las Vegas Strip,’” said Pamela Benjamin, director of marketing for Park Towers.
Both Turnberry Place and Park Towers offer basically the same perks and amenities — valet parking, concierge, security, business centers and much more. Turnberry Place, however, has a larger common area, clubhouse, health club and recreational complex than does Park Towers — due, in part, to both the much larger size of the Turnberry complex and the fact that the average owner profile at Turnberry is that of younger families, many still with children living at home. Social life at Turnberry Place will center around the 80,000-square-foot Stirling Club, due to open in September. The private club will feature a pool, spa, tennis courts, fitness center, casual and formal dining and a cocktail lounge.
Park Towers, on the other hand, was designed from the outset to appeal to those who prefer a more sedate living environment. It features such unique amenities as a wine cellar, a library, an antique and art collection and a private garden area.
Turnberry Place is owned and is being developed by Turnberry Corporation, headquartered in Florida — a company with years of experience developing similar kinds of properties as well as major shopping malls in other parts of the country. According to Soffer, the owners of Turnberry Corporation, a privately-held company, first fell in love with the Vegas area as a result of attending numerous shopping mall conventions in the city over the years. The more they visited the community, the more they came to recognize that Las Vegas compares favorably to Miami as a resort destination suited to high-rise condo development.
Park Towers, on the other hand, is a joint venture owned and operated by Irwin Molasky, Steve Wynn and other well-known Southern Nevadans. Hence, Park Towers has a decidedly more local flavor than does Turnberry Place. As might be expected, a higher percentage of buyers at Park Towers (50 percent) are local Southern Nevada residents, versus only 20 percent at Turnberry Place.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
There is an old adage proclaiming that the three most important factors in real estate are location, location and location. That is equally true when it comes to the placement of high-rise condominium complexes. Both Turnberry Place and Park Towers have premier locations, less than a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas Strip, and Turnberry’s Madison Towers will be equally well-situated. In fact, many of the owners at both Park Towers and Turnberry Place say that one of the most attractive features of both properties is proximity to the Strip.
TAX / INVESTMENT IMPLICATIONS
Purchasing a condominium home in Las Vegas may have tax advantages for buyers from other states. One condo owner from California said that the tax savings for his family, from declaring their Turnberry condo to be their primary residence, will more than cover the cost of the condo itself over time, because Nevada has no state income tax. Managers and marketing people at both locations affirm that many people are buying units for tax-related reasons, at least in part.
At high-rise condominium complexes around the world, many buyers purchase properties for speculative or investment reasons — buying with the thought of reselling as their condominiums increase in value. According to local sales associates, however, that does not seem to be happening at the high-rise condo properties in Las Vegas, thus indicating that homeowners at both Turnberry Place and Park Towers appear to be buying for their own long-term use. And for some of the wealthier homeowners at both properties, their purchases are second, third or even fourth homes.
The development and construction of both Turnberry Place and Park Towers have been largely financed by banks, based on the pre-construction sale of units. In both cases, 40 percent to 60 percent of the units in each tower had to be pre-sold before construction financing was forthcoming from the banks involved. Such financing has been made easier by the fact that such wealthy individuals and corporations as Irwin Molasky, Steve Wynn and the Turnberry Corporation are the primary developers and backers of these projects.
The introduction of luxury high-rise condominium living in Las Vegas is yet another sign of the “coming of age” of Las Vegas, a city that was once known primarily for its gaming, but which is now known for its quality of life as well. Indeed, new landmarks and silhouettes are transforming the Las Vegas horizon, in the form of luxury high-rise condominium living spaces — new landmarks and silhouettes to match the high-rise hotels and casinos for which Las Vegas is renowned.
COMPARISON OF TURNBERRY PLACE VS. PARK TOWERS
|Turnberry Place||Park Towers|
|Groundbreaking||July, 1999||September, 1999|
|Price range||$500,000 to $5,250,000||$720,000 to $4,500,000|
|Square feet per unit||1,500 to 9,000||2,100 to 10,000|
|Floors||38 per tower||20 per tower|
|Bedrooms per unit||2 to 5||2 to 4|
|Baths per unit||2 to 7||2 to 5|
|Balcony/terrace each unit||Yes||Yes|
|Average age of owners||55||60 plus|
|Percent local ownership||20%||50%|
|Annual weeks of use by owner||12 to 15||25 plus|
|Walking time from The Strip||5 min.||10 min.|
|Annual dues for membership/homeowner assoc.||$9,000 to $15,000||$10,000 to $22,000|
|Special amenities||Limo service, 3 onsite restaurants, onsite shopping||Library, wine cellar, garden, movie screening room, billiard room|