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Despite pandemic, developer still plans high-end office building

After suspending construction amid the turmoil of the pandemic, developers of a higher-end Las Vegas office building aim to resume heavy work in the coming months.

Developer Jeff LaPour told the Review-Journal last week that he might restart construction of Narrative, a proposed four-story, roughly 100,000-square-foot project in the southwest valley, at the end of the year.

He said that the project is about 35 percent leased — incoming occupants include his namesake firm and project partner G2 Capital Development — and that the developers are working with a user that could take the rest of the building.

The owners have finished site work, including for utilities, but have not done any construction since around late March or early April, after the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life and sparked enormous job losses in Southern Nevada, according to LaPour.

“When COVID hit … we hit the pause button,” he said.

Las Vegas’ office market was on solid footing at the start of 2020. Firms had been taking more space, and developers were gambling again on an industry that had spent years recovering from the real estate wipeout of the Great Recession.

But the pandemic has sparked questions over the office market’s future in Southern Nevada and elsewhere, to say nothing of the numerous other problems it created.

The public health crisis led to widespread corporate building closures as companies sent staff home over fears of the virus. The mass exile sparked discussions over how much office space firms really need, given that, as seen for several months now, people can work from their kitchen table, couch or home office, albeit at risk of prolonged isolation and distractions.

Overall, Southern Nevada has seen “a sharp decline in office leasing activity” since the pandemic started, with users renting 201,431 square feet in the third quarter, down 72 percent from the same period last year, brokerage firm CBRE Group reported Monday.

LaPour, for one, said he doesn’t believe the office market will be permanently changed by the pandemic, adding that office users say worker collaboration is a key ingredient for their growth.

Offices might be less densely occupied than before the pandemic, which could lead to firms taking even more space to spread people out, he contends.

“The office is a critical component of business,” he said.

LaPour, head of LaPour Partners, and G2 Capital, led by founder Frank Marretti, unveiled plans for Narrative in mid-2019. The “class A” project is just south of the 215 Beltway between Durango and Buffalo drives, next to credit card issuer Credit One Bank’s expanding headquarters.

The developers later announced that commercial real estate brokerage Colliers International planned to move its local headquarters to Narrative from the Hughes Center office park just east of the Strip.

In February, the month before Las Vegas rapidly shut down over fears of the coronavirus, LaPour and Marretti said they had broken ground on the project.

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

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