Flea Bag's Barkery & Bow-Tique's owners have leased space at The District since phase one was developed in 2004, and the experience has not been without its ups and downs.
At first, sales and traffic were strong. Then, with the downturn in the economy in 2008, sales dropped for a couple of years. But, business improved in 2011 and sales have remained steady in 2012.
Flea Bag's Barkery co-owner Whitney LePore looks forward to the future. Since The District changed ownership in November, she has noticed significant traffic increases -- about 20 percent -- on the phase one side of the retail center.
Kimberly Daskas, marketing director for The District's owner, Phoenix-based Vestar Development, said she didn't have specific sales and traffic figures for the center.
Overall taxable sales for Clark County in January, the last month reported, totaled $2.3 billion, up 3.5 percent from 2011, as reported by the Nevada Department of Taxation. Clothing and accessories stores made up 10.2 percent of all sales at $236.9 million, a 13.3 percent increase from 2011. Food services and drinking places were up 2.4 percent.
LePore mostly attributes the traffic increases she's noticed at The District to Vestar Development and warming weather.
"It's much better under the new ownership," LePore said.
She said the center's new management has more of an on-site presence than the previous team, and LePore said she's looking forward to future events hosted by The District, such as Music on Main Street on Friday and Saturday nights, and the Outdoor Picture Show beginning in May.
"It's not that it was ever bad, they just had a lot of the same events every year," LePore said. "We're looking forward to an influx of new events. People want to do new things."
Spring-centric events, too, such as Easter Bunny portraits, face painting and balloon artists, are helping pull local families to the retail center.
"It's a big draw," LePore said.
There have been changes at the District. In early November, Vestar Development, in a joint venture with Rockwood Capital, acquired the 384,107-square-foot District from LNR Partners LLC for $79 million in an all-cash transaction. In early 2011, LNR Partners acquired The District at Green Valley Ranch, on behalf of lenders owed almost $100 million by original owners American Nevada Co. American Nevada, though, continued to manage the property until the Vestar sale.
"This center has recently struggled, but we are confident and excited about stabilizing it over the coming year," Vestar Development President Rick Kuhle said in a statement. "We're very bullish about these types of value-added investment opportunities and are aggressively seeking more properties like it in Las Vegas and throughout the West."
Phase one at The District includes 212,622 square feet of retail and office space. Phase two was developed in 2006 and is a 171,485-square-foot retail-office mix anchored by Whole Foods.
Alligator Soup, a stationery and gift boutique, opened with phase two.
"We're not faring well. There's a lack of foot traffic on this side," said the store's owner, Helen Edell.
She said phase two never developed the way it was originally planned, to replicate phase one and provide more of a walking experience for shoppers. The economic downturn prompted a halt in construction and there's been no changes since, resulting in more of a traditional strip mall setting.
"I think everyone's trying to figure it out," Edell said. "But it's hard. It's very, very hard."
Alligator Soup's neighbor in phase two, Las Vegas Golf & Tennis, has a different perspective.
"Things are picking up for sure," store manager Steve Appleton said. "Business is good. We get a decent amount of foot traffic from the other side."
John Stater, research and global information services manager for Colliers International, said The District represents a unique form of retail in the Green Valley area, and its sale proved "it could still command respect and that investors saw a brighter future for it."
He explained the retail market is slowly breaking into two parts, between upscale projects like The District and single-tenant retail investments with national tenants that serve a less affluent demographic.
"The upscale market, despite their incomes suffering in the downturn, are still capable of spending money, and that's helping upscale and luxury retailers stay in business. As Southern Nevada slowly climbs out of the economic doldrums, The District's new owners have a good opportunity to readjust pricing and attract new tenants," Stater stated.
The U.S. economy added an average of 245,000 new jobs per month in the first quarter of 2012, with service businesses, restaurants, hotels and retailers doing most of the hiring.
"What they're seeing is that many of our shoppers are confident right now in going to the stores, buying more, spending more on discretionary merchandise and that's helping as well," National Retail Federation Vice President Ellen Davis said.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at email@example.com or 702-380-4588.