Construction to resume on Vantage Lofts in Henderson


The bankrupt Vantage Lofts development in Henderson has been acquired by a venture capital fund and could be completed in the next six to nine months, a principal owner said Friday.

The 20-acre property at Paseo Verde Parkway and Gibson Road was purchased out of bankruptcy, said Richard Crighton, principal of Rothwell Gornt Cos. in Las Vegas.

Clark County Assessor's records show a transfer of deed in compliance with bankruptcy proceedings from Vantage Lofts LLC to White Knight Venture Fund No. 7 in February. Crighton and his partners own the fund. The deed does not disclose a value, and Crighton declined to comment when asked.

Public records show developer Stacy Slade paid $2.5 million for what was then raw land in 2004.

He halted construction on what was then a $160 million project in March 2008, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2008. Court papers at that time listed about $72 million in debts and assets of about $45 million. R.E. Loans of Lafayette, Calif., owned a $35 million first mortgage; Scripps Investments and Loans of La Jolla, Calif., had a second position, for $32.4 million.

The project has remained stalled for four years, a monument to the real estate crash that left several unfinished projects around the Las Vegas Valley.

Crighton said it will cost about $15 million to complete the 110-unit first phase of Vantage Lofts. Application for building permits will be submitted to the city of Henderson in the next 10 days, he said. The original plan called for 300 units at full build-out.

"We're going to finish the buildings and upgrade the common areas with modern amenities," he said. "This will be the most luxurious midrise project in Las Vegas. It's either the biggest eyesore in Henderson or one of the jewels in Henderson."

Rothwell Gornt specializes in acquiring distressed properties and has purchased shopping centers and more than 1,000 apartment units in Las Vegas in recent years.

Vantage Lofts is the latest acquisition of troubled condo projects in Las Vegas. Mira Villa, a 130-unit midrise luxury condo project, was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2008 by a consortium of lenders for $38 million. Earlier this year, the former Luxe Lofts was purchased for $6.8 million and renamed The Modern.

Real estate consultant Steve Bottfeld of Marketing Solutions said the purchase of Vantage Lofts shows that people with money see value in Las Vegas.

"I think it's a signal that some of the stuff that's nearly built - sitting there 70 percent constructed - might now come back on the market at considerably lower price levels," he said.

There were a number of "issues" with Vantage Lofts, including the size of the units and phasing of the project, Bottfeld said. Developers should have reacted to market conditions and lowered prices by 30 percent, as did MGM Resorts at CityCenter, he said.

Crighton said he and his partners worked hard to put the deal together with the goal of adding value to the units.

"Adjusting to the economic cycles was not an easy task, but creativity and no lack of effort helped us get to where we are now," he said. "The key is that the buildings and units were so over-designed and so much money was spent, it would be impossible to replicate."

Bringing Vantage Lofts back to life will generate hundreds of construction jobs and more than a dozen permanent jobs, and will bring revenue to the city of Henderson through permitting and inspection fees and increase the tax base, Crighton said.

Vantage Lofts was announced in 2005 during the condo craze in Las Vegas, along with projects such as the Mercer, C2 Lofts, Onyx and Echelon at Centennial Village.

The units, ranging from 1,000 square feet to 2,800 square feet, were priced from the $400,000s to $1.6 million, or about $450 a square foot. Completion was originally scheduled for late 2006, then moved back a year because of issues with the secondary lender, subcontractor labor and design and engineering approvals, developer Slade told the Las Vegas Review-Journal then.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

 

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