79°F
weather icon Clear

Howard Hughes sale could put Summerlin, Aviators in new hands

If someone buys The Howard Hughes Corp., it would put the Las Vegas Aviators, its ballpark, the Downtown Summerlin mall and thousands of acres of suburban Las Vegas land in new hands.

There’s no guarantee a buyer will snatch up Summerlin’s overlord, but if one does it won’t be the first time the community’s developer has new ownership.

Hughes Corp. said late last month it is weighing a possible sale of the company; a sale, joint venture or spin-off of a portion of its assets; a recapitalization; or changes to its “corporate structure.”

The Dallas-based developer said the goal of the review is to “maximize shareholder value,” with CEO David Weinreb stating the business “continues to perform extremely well” but indicated its stock price is lower than it should be.

It’s too early to tell how a potential sale could affect the sprawling Summerlin community; that depends on who buys the Hughes Corp., assuming someone does, and what they do with its holdings.

But I’d be surprised if a new owner takes things in a new direction in Las Vegas.

Hughes Corp. sells land to homebuilders in Summerlin, which spans 22,500 acres along the valley’s western rim, commands some of the highest home and land prices in Southern Nevada and, despite a drop in deals this year, is one of the top spots in the country for builders’ sales. The company also owns the minor-league Aviators team, the newly built Las Vegas Ballpark, vast tracts of land and other properties.

The developer traces its roots to its namesake Howard Hughes, the famed aviator, businessman and recluse who acquired the land now known as Summerlin – named after his grandmother Jean Amelia Summerlin – in the 1950s.

Hughes died in 1976, and 20 years later his heirs sold the Howard Hughes Corp. to Maryland mall developer the Rouse Co. in a $520 million deal, according to news reports at the time.

Chicago mall operator General Growth Properties acquired Rouse in a $12.6 billion deal in 2004 as the real estate bubble inflated. But the economy crashed, and General Growth halted construction of the outdoor mall now known as Downtown Summerlin, leaving a steel skeleton off the side of the 215 Beltway at Sahara Avenue.

General Growth went bankrupt in 2009 – Reuters called it the biggest real estate failure in U.S. history – and as part of its exit from bankruptcy in 2010, it spun off The Howard Hughes Corp. as a separate company with control over Summerlin and other properties.

The mothballed Summerlin mall ended up a visible reminder of Las Vegas’ real estate crash for years — an unfinished, abandoned project exposed to the elements. Hughes Corp. eventually resumed construction, and Weinreb, the CEO, took a jab at General Growth several months before the 106-acre project opened in 2014.

Without mentioning the predecessor’s name, he wrote in a letter to shareholders that the project “had an all-star line-up of tenants and if previous management had the capital and courage to stay the course, despite how badly Las Vegas was hit by the downturn, it would be a fortress mall today.”

If Hughes Corp. is sold, the deal could have ripple effects beyond Las Vegas, as the developer also has interests in Hawaii, Texas, Chicago and Maryland, among other locations.

For now, at least one thing resulted from last month’s announcement: a higher stock price.

When Hughes Corp. – overseen by chairman Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge-fund operator – announced it was mulling a sale, its stock jumped more than 40 percent in value the same day.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
There's a new place to play board games in Las Vegas
Matt Smiciklas, co-owner of Boarding School Games, talks about the new Las Vegas business that he co-owns with Emily Labejof. Dedicated tabletop gamers can choose from more than 500 games to play for free in-store. The doors open to the public Saturday, July 20, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Renovations at the STRAT
Analysts say the $140 million renovation project at The STRAT, formerly the known as the Stratosphere, could help the hotel-casino compete with the evolving north side of the Las Vegas Strip. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SLS Las Vegas will become Sahara Las Vegas
Owner Alex Meruelo announced during a special event at the SLS Las Vegas that the hotel-casino will become Sahara Las Vegas in its next iteration. Meruelo said $150 million dollars will be spent to renovate the current property. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aircraft hinge maker moves to "business friendly" Nevada
Doug Silva, president of Aircraft Hinge, Inc. in Las Vegas, makes every type of hinge for every type of airplane. Silva talks about his company and why he moved it to Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Daytime fireworks mark the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
The opening of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. included a three-minute fireworks show launched by Fireworks by Grucci Sunday, June 23, 2019. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @RickVelotta
Elaine Wynn talks about the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
Elaine Wynn, co-founder and largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts, talked during opening festivities of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
People line hours ahead of opening for Encore Boston Harbor
Guests arrive as much as 17 hours early for the 10 a.m. opening of the $2.6 billion, 671-room resort in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal.com
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms - Video
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms.
Crews working 24/7 to complete Circa downtown - VIDEO
Owner Derek Stevens goal is to open the doors to the 1.25 million-square-foot project by December 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Marc-Andre Fleury sells Las Vegas home - VIDEO
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has sold his custom home Southern Highlands home in Las Vegas for $2.3 million.
Las Vegas Strip resorts slow to welcome Alexa, Google Home Hub
Alexa, where are you? Smart home and hospitality technology was big at CES in early January. Amazon and Google promoted their voice-activated speakers Alexa and Google Home Hub. Hospitality executives have called the speakers the industry’s future. Yet for all the hype, the revolution is unfolding at a cautious pace on the Strip as well as in other major U.S. hospitality markets. Hotels are focusing their consumer-facing technology investments on adding streaming capabilities, like Netflix, and enhancing their mobile apps, a December report by Hospitality Technology showed. Voice-enabled technology is 10th on that priority list.
What is MGM 2020
MGM Resorts International announced its MGM 2020 plan in January, The plan would improve cash flow by $200 million annually by the end of 2020 and an additional $100 million by the end of 2021. 1,070 jobs were cut as part of the cost-cutting initiative. 881 of those were Las Vegas employees, mostly in management or mid-management positions. Jim Murren
What is MGM 2020
MGM Resorts International announced its MGM 2020 plan in January, The plan would improve cash flow by $200 million annually by the end of 2020 and an additional $100 million by the end of 2021. 1,070 jobs were cut as part of the cost-cutting initiative. 881 of those were Las Vegas employees, mostly in management or mid-management positions. Jim Murren
Find next-level experience
One minute, you’re just trimming hedges and shooting the breeze with your neighbor. But then he brings up Vegas and you’re thinking about the incredible meals, world-class hotels, pools inside of pools and unparalleled entertainment. You’re thinking about iconic artist residencies like Aerosmith. Priorities take shape. Vegas first, lawn and everything else, second. Just like that, Vegas Changes Everything. (Visti Las Vegas/Youtube)
Vegas Changes Everything
A weekend getaway is nice for anyone, but a weekend getaway in Vegas ... that’s a next-level experience with shows, clubs, spas and more. With a chance to see iconic artist residencies like Gwen Stefani, you might just find yourself going from pushing your child on a swing, to pushing back a birthday party. See how Vegas Changes Everything. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
THE LATEST