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Condos hit a crescendo

They're glossy and they're glam, but which projects will survive?

Las Vegas has rediscovered the crash pad.

Designed as second (or third) homes for high rollers who don’t want to face a casino before the first cup of coffee, developers are building thousands of luxury condo units — with and without casinos, to be purchased with or without furnishings. With Japanese soaking tubs in the bathrooms and built-in wine refrigerators in the kitchen, they’re sexy as anything Frank Sinatra might have demanded.

One hot property, Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino, sold its first 1,300 units in four months. However, with a design that includes the city’s first private balconies to overlook the Strip, one candid sales rep predicts, “There will be jumpers.”

The Cosmopolitan won’t open until 2008. However, the Vegas condo craze is already seeing its first casualties.

Last month, developers put Ivana Trump’s high-rise, the Ivana, on the block for $49 million. Michael Jordan’s Aqua Blue project fell apart last spring and published reports have suggested that Las Ramblas, which counts George Clooney and Rande Gerber among its partners, could be next.

Brokers still have their fingers crossed. “I think (Ramblas) is going to bring in a very classy crowd,” says Sandy Worthen, a broker with Re/Max Central in Las Vegas who specializes in high-rise, luxury condos.

Ramblas is the city’s largest residential project, with a $3 billion plan that calls for a casino and 4,400 hotel rooms and residences. It would anchor the Harmon Corridor, the strip off the Strip that’s also expected to house the $1.7 billion W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Residences. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which staked out this area a decade ago, plans to break ground on its own condo-hotel complex this spring.

“Over the next three to four months, products without a brand behind them will start to crumble,” predicts Adam Frank of Las Vegas-based developer the Edge Group, a partner in the W Hotel project.

Indeed, strong hotel brands back some of the most successful condo projects. Sales are brisk at Trump Towers, which began construction last summer, and the third and final tower at the Residences at MGM Grand is 70 percent sold out. Cosmopolitan is operated by Hyatt Hotels, while the Palms and Hard Rock condos are also sold out.

Brand names are also important for buyers of “condo-hotels;” these offer a raft of amenities, VIP access and a passive income stream. Owners can add the unit to the hotel’s rental pool and enjoy the income split — a scheme that’s most effective if the hotel has a high-occupancy track record.

Some developers believe the next big thing is taking shape far from the Strip. In November, designer Dodd Mitchell announced a $1.8 billion remodel of the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, one that will include 824 furnished hotel-condo units.

“The Vegas market is saturated,” says Mitchell, whose plans include a branch of his Dolce restaurant, an 8,000-square foot hockey rink and $60 million worth of water features that, he says, will dwarf those at the Bellagio.

“When Steve Wynn opened the Bellagio, people thought he was crazy to spend the kind of money he did back then,” says Mitchell. “Now I’m about to do the same thing.”

Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino

The Residences at MGM Grand Las Vegas

Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino The Residences at MGM Grand Las Vegas
Location:The Strip
Developer: 3700 Associates
Location:The Strip
Developer: MGM Grand and Turnberry Associates
Description: Turnkey units in an Arquitectonica-designed high-rise tower feature the Strip’s first private balconies. The complex includes a 50,000 square foot casino, 300,000 square feet of retail space, a beach club, a fitness center and 12 to 14 fine dining restaurants. The 2000 condo-hotel units will be operated by Grand Hyatt; fewer than 700 are available for sale. A second release of 700 condo-hotel units in the development’s 600-foot-tall Beach Club Tower is now underway. Description: Three 40-story towers with 1,727 fully furnished condominium units ranging from 600 to 1,600 square feet. Owners will have access to 24-hour concierge services and MGM Grand’s 171,000 square foot casino and spa.
Pricing: Studios from the low $600’s, one-bedrooms from $1.3 million Pricing: $550,000 to $2.5 million
Contact: (702) 215-5500 Contact: or (888) 891-1688

W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Residences

Las Ramblas

W Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Residences Las Ramblas
Location:Harmon Corridor
Developer: W Hotels Worldwide and Edge Resorts
Location:Harmon Corridor
Developer: Related Companies (in partnership with George Clooney)
Description: W’s first property with a casino will have 3,000 hotel and residential units, 24-hour room service, more than 10 dining/nightlife options (including nightlife impresario Amanda Scheer Demme’s first Vegas boite), pool with private cabanas, retail space and a Bliss Gym & Spa. Units will go on sale early this year. Description: Designed by Philippe Starck, the $3.5 billion Las Ramblas project is comprised of 11 towers, including a hotel, condo-hotels, a spa, pool with private cabanas, casino, nightlife and restaurants. Scheduled for completion in mid-2008.
Pricing: From $550,000 Pricing: From $500,000
Contact: Contact: (866) RAMBLAS

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