Nevada homebuyers are eagerly embracing the concept of master-planned communities, and the aging of the baby boom generation ensures their continued attractiveness into the near future. “A few short years ago [master-planned communities] were less than 10 percent of the new home market. Now, we’re getting close to 20 percent,” declared Tom Warden, vice president of marketing and community relations for the 22,500-acre master-planned community of Summerlin, developed by The Howard Hughes Corporation in Las Vegas. “In this, the fastest growing metropolitan area in America, we’re selling 20 percent of the new homes.”
Even in these relatively tough times, Warden is bullish about his product. “People will still buy a new home, but when times are tougher they want to make sure their investment is as secure as possible.” Warden argues that a master-planned community provides a better bang for the consumer’s buck because the value of the purchase is not just in the house but also in the community. He said the future of the master-planned community is the future of the housing market in Southern Nevada.
“In 1990, when we started building Summerlin, people who bought homes were buying with the promise of all the master-planned community had to offer,” Warden said. “Now that more than one-third is built out, people see what Summerlin is all about. Now, real estate agents drive people through the community first, before they ever show them the house. That’s because they are selling more than just the structure; they’re selling a home that’s part of a community.”
In Sparks’ Wingfield Springs, part owner and director of sales Skylo Dangler has been involved with his master-planned project for more than eight years. Located north of Sparks, Wingfield Springs will wrap up the 2001 season with more than 270 new home sales. Dangler said his houses are priced from $140,000 to more than $700,000, with a median-priced dwelling costing about $275,000. With two golf courses within its boundaries – one public and one private – Dangler said the area is positioned as an affordable golf community. Membership in the private course sells for $22,500 and includes unlimited golf, although, according to Dangler, many people who buy in Wingfield Springs are not golfers. In the last five years, he said four or five golf communities have been constructed in Northern Nevada. “From affordable communities like us to higher end like Montrêux, there’s a need for both types of projects.”
Both Dangler and Warden warn of a lack of land for new projects like theirs. “We see land is limited because of our geographic location,” Dangler said. “We’re surrounded by mountains. We don’t predict any shortage of power or water, but of course, another dry winter might cause some drought restrictions. Living in a high desert we should always recognize that conserving water is a good thing.”
In Las Vegas, Warden said water is committed through 2025 in the Las Vegas Valley – more than enough water, since Summerlin should be built out by 2015. His view of the power situation and its availability is even more positive. “Right now there are hundreds of megawatts of generating power either under construction or being planned,” said Warden. “When completed, they will provide not only enough power for this valley, but also for the western grid outside the valley. We have more than enough power – in fact, we’ll be a power hub.”
Master planning appears to be the wave of the future in Northern Nevada. Long-time Nevadan Tom Hantges, who resides in Las Vegas but is spearheading much of the development in Reno’s Double Diamond community near the base of the Sierra Nevadas, recently unveiled Fleur de Lis, a group of luxury townhomes. Hantges’ Tanamera Homes and Resort Communities is responsible for the new 40-acre luxury townhome complex. “We’ve taken foresight, planning and the best of everything and melded it onto a well-balanced community,” Hantges said. “The end result is more than a place to live – it’s a lifestyle.” With only eight units per acre compared to the typical 14 to 18 found in most townhome developments, Fleur de Lis will offer its residents an open and relaxed setting. This type of low density in residential housing does not typically exist in townhome living.
Green Valley, the granddaddy of Nevada’s master-planned sites, originally broke ground in 1978. The 8,400 acres of land on the southern perimeter of the Las Vegas Valley quickly became one of the most successful master-planned developments in the United States, repeatedly earning a national Top 10 ranking for new home sales. Over the years, Green Valley has been recognized for progressive and creative planning, giving more than 75,000 people convenient, well laid-out surroundings. John Kilduff, president of American Nevada Corporation, developers of Green Valley, said his company is forging ahead with new projects in the planning stages and some just coming on line. Kilduff had this to say: “This is a time of exciting development activity for our company. The focal point of our current commercial development over the next few years is concentrated primarily in 350 acres surrounding the intersection of the I-215 Southern Beltway and Green Valley Parkway.” Within the 350-acre parcel, the company has already built 1.15 million square feet of office and retail buildings as well as the newly opened Green Valley Ranch Station Casino. Kilduff said plans are underway to open an urban village south of I-215 consisting of a mix of retail space, office space and possibly up to 100 high-end apartments by the last quarter of 2003.
The baby boom generation is giving its stamp of approval to master planning, both residential and commercial. Boomers aged 55-plus now number more than 78 million, and at least 4 million cross this important age milestone annually. Summerlin is ready for members of this group and has even provided an active adult community – Siena – just for them. “Our amenities are slightly more specialized,” said Paul Smith, senior vice-president and project manager for Siena. “We provide a wellness center within the health and fitness center where members can avail themselves of specialized medical screenings.” Smith described his boomer amenities as “a synergy of services for our community members who are 55 and over.”
Wingfield Spring’s Dangler acknowledged many of the amenities within his project are dictated by baby boomers. For example, there are more single-story homes in the construction process. Boomers like golf – hence, the two courses within Wingfield Spring’s boundaries. Additionally, boomers like to walk and they don’t necessarily want to live in an age-restricted community, but many prefer to be close to the kids and grandkids. “We have one family who owns four different residences so family members can be close to each other,” Dangler said. “That’s why we have a mixed product that appeals to a young couple, as well as their parents and grandparents.”
From new communities like Siena and Fleur de Lis, to the more seasoned like Wingfield Springs, Green Valley, Summerlin and the venerable Caughlin Ranch in Northern Nevada, the jury is unanimous. People enjoy living in master-planned communities. They like the fact that they are purchasing a lifestyle and a built-in sense of neighborhood. They seem pleased that the conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) are strictly enforced and that historically, their property values will increase handsomely. Master-planned communities address not only housing requirements, but also social and cultural needs.