Summerlin’s ad campaign evokes the images of an active lifestyle. A dad playing football with a young daughter. Hikers on a trail. The local high school softball team.
And, of course, the bicyclists.
There they are in one of the promotional advertisements, pedaling up a steep hill on the popular scenic loop at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
Howard Hughes Corp., Summerlin’s developer, rolls out the road bicyclists along with the hikers and trail walkers to sell home buyers on the 35-square-mile, 100,000-resident planned community that borders the stunningly scenic Red Rock Canyon area on the Las Vegas Valley’s west side.
“I think that a big selling feature of Summerlin is access to outdoor amenities including cycling. It’s definitely a reason for living in that area. I honestly can’t see myself living in any other community in the valley because Summerlin has such great outdoor amenities,” said bicyclist Jennifer Turchin, project manager at Sellen Sustainability who lives in Summerlin with her husband, Kevin.
“It’s a valuable pitch for people who want to spend time outdoors,” she said.
The bicycling images fit the Summerlin promotional messages because Summerlin residents ranked the community’s trail system as the number one amenity that is used on a weekly basis, said Danielle Bisterfeldt, Howard Hughes director of marketing for Summerlin.
“It’s the focus of our amenities,” Bisterfeldt said. She noted homes in Summerlin sell for $200,000 and up.
National bicycle advocates said it economically pays off for real estate developers to spotlight bicycling in their promotional materials.
“Bicycling images help just about all real estate pitches, whether they’re used to promote a higher-end, suburban master-planned community like Summerlin or a new apartment/condo complex in the heart of a major city,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of Boulder, Colo.-based PeopleForBikes, a national nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization.
“A photo of happy people bicycling builds a positive image of a place that is safe, quiet, active, outdoors, family-friendly, with clean air — in sum, a place where people want to live and hang out,” Blumenthal said.
“Bike riding images are now common nationwide in housing presentations. Housing that is close to trails and recreational paths generally commands a higher price, too, he said.
Jared Fisher, owner of Las Vegas Cyclery in Summerlin, said he knows people who bought houses in Summerlin specifically because the area is known as bicycle-friendly and near Red Rock Canyon. In fact, Fisher said Howard Hughes officials were cooperative in helping him acquire the land to build his new ultra-green bike shop off Town Center Drive near the Las Vegas Beltway.
“They were real cool with us and excited about the bike shop and pretty accommodating to getting us here,” Fisher said. Fisher’s store cost $1.98 million to build, while the land was $800,000. As a “net-zero” building, Las Vegas Cyclery creates more energy than it uses thanks to solar panels, a wind turbine and efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems.
Tom Warden, Howard Hughes senior vice president for Summerlin, said the store’s bicycling and sustainability themes were a fit for the development company.
“The whole sustainability fits with the Summerlin brand,” Warden said.
Fisher’s bike shop is not the only retail bicycle store in Summerlin. Broken Spoke opened in the Albertsons shopping center off West Charleston Boulevard. The shopping center parking lot is filled with cars parked by bicyclists on the weekends for two-wheel jaunts to Red Rock Canyon and the scenic loop.
Broken Spoke owner David McDonough, who opened the store a little more than two years ago, said it’s good business strategy to market Summerlin as a bicycle-friendly neighborhood and health-conscious environment.
Summerlin also hosts the annual Tour de Summerlin bike ride event, while other regionwide bicycle rides such as the popular RTC Viva Bike Vegas include a healthy chunk of their courses in Summerlin and Red Rock Canyon. Other weekly Summerlin-based bike rides leave from a Starbucks and Lifetime gym on West Charleston Boulevard; the Las Vegas Cyclery and Broken Spoke bike shops; and even a Dunkin’ Donuts in the Albertsons shopping center.
The national bicycle industry has taken notice of cycling in Summerlin because the industry stages its annual national trade show in Las Vegas. A recent Bicycling magazine story also featured Las Vegas as a new hot bicycle town, focusing on cyclists pedaling along state Route 159 in the shadow of Red Rock Canyon.
“Bike riders who visit Las Vegas only for trade shows or other special events are quite familiar with Blue Diamond and Red Rock Canyon,” Blumenthal said. “The northwest side of Vegas is known as a beautiful, natural place to bike, hike and climb — an area that offers an appealing contrast to the energy and flash of the Strip.”
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow him on Twitter @BicycleManSnel.