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Las Vegas apartment developer banking on affluent tenants

When Bob Schulman joined a wave of developers bringing new apartments to Las Vegas a handful of years ago, he stuffed his project with more amenities than most.

The complex, South Beach, came with indoor and outdoor gyms, steam and sauna rooms, poolside cabanas, sand volleyball, a basketball court and a soccer field.

It drew younger tenants who wanted to party, Schulman said, and even charged renters a “resort fee” to help pay for some of the perks.

Now, after selling the complex for top dollar almost two years ago, the octogenarian developer has opened another rental property crammed with goodies, albeit at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has badly battered Las Vegas’ economy and cast a dark cloud over the rental market.

Apartments with concierge

His project, Tuscan Highlands, at the southern tip of the valley near the M Resort, boasts a restaurant, wine garden, esports lounge, sport court, 35-foot rock climbing tower, gym and spa, soundproof studio, and temperature-controlled lockers for grocery delivery.

Its staff includes a concierge and a wellness and fitness director, and it charges a monthly resort fee of $125 per person to help pay for food, drinks and parties, said Schulman, founder of Schulman Properties, who partnered on the project with Southern California real estate firm Watt Companies.

The developers spent $3 million on landscaping at Tuscan Highlands and maybe $10 million to install the amenities, according to Schulman.

The goal, he said, was to build a “world-class” resort where people live.

The 83-year-old longtime developer said he broke ground on the project around early 2019. Las Vegas’ economy was on solid footing at the time, and its rental market had been heating up for years with increased construction, tight vacancies, fast-rising rents and lucrative landlord purchases.

The hefty transactions included Schulman and Watt’s sale of the 220-unit South Beach, in the southwest valley, for $62 million in fall 2018.

The deal amounted to more than $281,800 per unit, more than double the market average at the time as tracked by Colliers International.

Big rents

After the pandemic shut down much of the economy in March and sparked other chaos, Schulman said, he was “definitely” worried it would be tough to get tenants for the new project.

Rental rates aren’t cheap at Tuscan Highlands, ranging from $1,275 to $3,800, but Schulman said dozens of units have already been leased, and, despite high unemployment in Southern Nevada, most tenants earn big salaries.

As of Thursday, 78 apartments had been rented in the 304-unit complex, located at the corner of Southern Highlands and St. Rose parkways, he said.

Most of the tenants make more than $100,000 per year, and the renters are split between locals and out-of-state arrivals, mostly from Southern California, according to Schulman.

Las Vegas’ rental market overall still faces murky terrain. Government funds have helped many Nevadans pay rent amid the pandemic, and the state’s eviction moratorium, slated to expire in mid-October, has helped keep people in their homes.

Gov. Steve Sisolak extended the freeze in late August amid the still-raging pandemic and fears that Las Vegas could face an evictions crisis, given the valley’s severe economic collapse.

But, as Schulman is seeing, there are still people out there who can write hefty rent checks, despite all the turmoil around them.

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

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