By Eli Segall Las Vegas Review-Journal
October 27, 2019 - 8:42 am
When Charles Bombard built his house near Henderson Executive Airport more than 20 years ago, he was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by open desert and some dirt roads.
There’s still plenty of vacant land near his 2-acre spread, but now developers are pursuing dozens of projects in the area.
“It’s getting nuts out there right now, to be quite honest with you,” Bombard said.
Located at the southern tip of the Las Vegas Valley, the west Henderson area is poised to be blanketed with construction sites. Developers are building, have finished in the past few years or have drawn up plans for a total of at least 36 projects, covering more than 1,000 acres and featuring nearly 6,900 homes, the Las Vegas Review-Journal found.
Big projects include a 600,000-plus-square-foot Amazon distribution center, the Raiders’ new practice center and headquarters, a planned 103-acre mixed-use development, a 54-acre retail plaza with Costco, and machine tool maker Haas Automation’s proposed $327.4 million manufacturing facility.
All told, the dozens of projects would pump hundreds of millions of dollars into a once-sleepy area that was supposed to grow before the economy crashed and lagged other parts of the valley as construction rebounded in recent years.
Of course, just because something is planned doesn’t mean it will get built. Southern Nevada has a long history of real estate investors pitching big ideas and never following through. But the pile-on has turned west Henderson into a heated spot for new apartments, housing tracts, warehouses, retail centers and other projects.
Around 12,600 people lived in west Henderson at the start of 2019, though over the next 30 years the population is expected to reach 63,000, according to city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards.
Spacefinders Realty owner Eliot Alper, whose office is next to the Henderson airport, sees the construction every day. He deals with increased traffic from trucks and other vehicles, calling it a “horrible mix.”
He also didn’t expect things to develop so quickly.
“This has shocked me that it’s all of a sudden grown so fast,” he said.
Projects flooding the parkway
‘Kind of overlooked’
The 30-plus projects are in or near an area bordered by St. Rose Parkway to the north, Volunteer Boulevard to the south, Las Vegas Boulevard to the west and Seven Hills Drive to the east. Nearly all of them are in Henderson, with a few in unincorporated Clark County.
“It’s just mind-boggling that … all of the stars have aligned at one time,” said American West Homes founder Larry Canarelli, who owns land nearby on Las Vegas Boulevard and is developing a project in west Henderson.
The Raiders’ much-hyped football facility, under construction on Executive Airport Drive near St. Rose, has put a spotlight on west Henderson. But developers gave mixed responses as to whether its arrival has spurred other projects. They offered plenty of reasons for the activity, including the area’s proximity to Interstate 15, the Strip, McCarran International Airport and communities like Inspirada.
The area is also closer to Southern California than the warehouses of North Las Vegas. Some real estate professionals said that improves the odds that inbound truckers can drop off their products and get back before they have to take a rest period.
Moreover, its infrastructure is expanding, and as other parts of the valley get built out and more congested, west Henderson still has land — something any developer needs.
“That’s the hottest area of town right now,” Henderson economic development manager Ken Chapa said.
The area wasn’t entirely open desert before the current building boom — it already had the M Resort and the Lion Habitat Ranch, among other things — but it wasn’t supposed to be as undeveloped as it is now.
M Resort developer Anthony Marnell III said this month that it was never a question of if west Henderson would grow, but when. More than a decade ago, when he was developing the hotel-casino, people figured a “tremendous amount of homes” would be built nearby, giving the M a big base of local customers.
But like practically everywhere else in town, big ideas there fell through. During the mid-2000s bubble, developer Bill Plise set out to build City Crossing, a 126-acre project with hotels, luxury homes, retail space and offices near the Henderson airport. It was never built, and both the project and Plise went bankrupt.
Marnell, who lives in the area, noted that “nothing happened” for years in west Henderson after the economy tanked. It was quiet, with “For Sale” signs scattered about on desert parcels.
Construction has gained momentum in Southern Nevada over the past several years. But west Henderson is farther from the Strip than other areas and has “been kind of overlooked,” said Panattoni Development Co. partner Doug Roberts, who has been building industrial projects in the area.
One of the first big projects there after the Great Recession was a FedEx Ground facility. It opened in 2014 but wasn’t followed by much right nearby until the past few years.
“It’s taken over four years to get the traction we have now,” said Colliers International broker Dan Doherty, an industrial-property specialist.