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LaPour's Holsum Lofts finds stability as he scopes other downtown sites

Jeff LaPour made a bet on downtown Las Vegas before it was trendy.

That gamble — one of the first private attempts at downtown redevelopment — hasn’t quite paid off yet, thanks in part to the recession. But his Holsum Lofts just cleared a big obstacle to long-term stability, and LaPour is now confident enough in the local economy to mull another downtown project.

LaPour’s downtown odyssey began in 2003, when his LaPour Partners firm bought the Holsum building at 231 W. Charleston Blvd. and transformed it into Holsum Lofts, a 46,000-square-foot combination of office space and showrooms for creative businesses such as ad agencies and design studios. LaPour Partners took out $6.5 million in construction loans to finish the project. The company stayed current on the note, but when the loan matured in 2011, smack in the middle of the credit crunch, no one would refinance it.

A limited liability company bought the note in an online auction, forced the project into bankruptcy and tried to foreclose.

But LaPour and Holsum survived the battle. Today, new financing is in place. The two-year, $6 million note with a 7 percent interest rate gives “enough time for the market to heal a little bit and let us seek permanent financing,” LaPour said. “Now, we can continue business as usual.”

Business as usual these days means something different downtown. LaPour estimated there’s three times the amount of demand for Holsum’s space today than existed a decade ago. Occupancy hovers at around 90 percent, with tenants including ad agency The Glenn Group, LGA Architects and Lola’s A Louisiana Kitchen.

Even before the forced bankruptcy, it wasn’t always easy for Holsum. La Pour said he got the thumbs down for the project from 10 to 15 banks before he could get a building loan. That was because downtown had practically no cachet at the time, and the artists’-loft concept was unproven locally. Plus, the banks couldn’t evaluate any leasing history to get a feel for rent rates.

The market has turned, though, thanks to a certain shoe e-tailer.

“Zappos has made a big push for downtown awareness, and with its Downtown Project, it’s put its money where its mouth is. It’s acquired property and taken that risk,” LaPour said. “Downtown is a much different, and better, place today.”

So LaPour is ready to bet again. He’s scoping new sites for creative office space, and said he expects to have plans sometime in the first quarter.

“I would love to do as much as possible downtown,” he said. “I’ve always had a fondness for urban areas.”

■ The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors announced its newly elected board on Aug. 30. Heidi Kasama of Prudential Americana Group will take over as president. Noah Herrera of Platinum R.E. Professionals will be president-elect. Keith Lynam of Windermere Prestige Properties will be vice president, and Coldwell Banker Premier agent Christopher Bishop will serve as treasurer. The new board takes office Jan. 1.

■ Marcus &Millichap Real Estate Investment Services brokered the $6.65 million sale of a Summerlin office building. ES 135498 LLC bought the 37,389-square-foot, Class A office building at 1401 Hillshire Drive, at Summerlin Parkway and Town Center Drive, from WDHM Holding LLLP. Chris Cunning and Tina Taylor represented the seller, while Tim Erickson represented the buyer.

■ Brokers with Gatski Commercial recently closed two big deals.

Ric Rushton represented landlord AAMG LLC in a 60-month lease to New Com. The lease, for 11,320 square feet of space inside The Alamo Office Building at 6600 Amelia Earhart, is worth $844,861.

And Rob Lujan and Jason Simon represented landlord CV PropCo LLC in a 63-month lease to Ecommerce Innovations LLC. The $335,933 lease is on 11,131 square feet of industrial-office flex space at 3245 Palms Center Drive, inside the Palms Business Center. James Griffis of Griffis Realty Investments represented the tenant.

■ Sun Commercial Real Estate brokered the $2.89 million sale of a 29,482-square-foot office building at 8440 W. Lake Mead Blvd. Sun Commercial’s Cathy Jones, Paul Miachika, Jessica Beall and Roy Fritz represented the seller, South Shore Professional Center LLC. Jody Wallace Jr. of Exit Realty represented the buyer, JAM Properties International LLC.

Sun Commercial’s Roger Jeffries III represented Zions National Bank in its $380,000 sale of a 3,714-square-foot office building at 7435 W. Azure Drive. Adam Malan of The Equity Group represented the buyer, TIB LLC.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@ or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.