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Developers close escrow on 23 acres at Boca Park

The developers of One Queensridge Place and Tivoli Village closed escrow on a 23-acre parcel of land at Boca Park shopping center for nearly $11.8 million, a real estate source said Tuesday.

Cathy Jones, president of Sun Commercial, said her firm negotiated the sale of the land at the southeast corner of Rampart Boulevard and Alta Drive on behalf of City National Bank, which had taken the land back from Triple Five Development.

At $11.50 a square foot, it’s the most expensive off-Strip land deal in 18 months and will raise comparable values for retail land in Las Vegas, Jones said.

It was a lengthy bank-owned transaction and reflects increasing confidence in the Las Vegas commercial sector, she said.

“It’s probably the best off-Strip entertainment retail available,” Jones said. “We’ve had a lot of retail brokers contact us and track the progress of the property. All the usual suspects were looking at this piece and staying in touch with us.”

There were several qualified back-up offers for the land, which would have sold for two to three times that price three years ago, she said.

The buyer is RA Southeast Land Co., an entity formed by Executive Home Builders and IDB Group. EHB built One Queensridge Place, two 18-story condo towers in the upscale Queensridge community; and is building Tivoli Village, an $800 million mixed-use retail and entertainment development across Alta from Boca Park.

The land acquisition furthers the company’s vision of developing a community hub in western Las Vegas Valley, said Frank Pankratz, president of Executive Home Builders.

“While many developments and construction projects have been significantly slowed or halted in Las Vegas, we remain confident in the city’s future and steadfast in our vision for this dynamic mixed-use corridor,” Pankratz said.

IDB Group is Israel’s largest diversified business group, with $30 billion in assets, operating in more than 100 countries worldwide and employing 40,000 employees.

“What you’re going to find is they can add entertainment venues — food and dining — and traditional retail as well and possibly a boutique hotel,” Jones said. “With the pricing being low as it is, this a good time for retailers to be looking at expanding.”

Rick Hildreth of Land Advisors in Las Vegas said he thinks the buyers overpaid.

“They’re an end user, but it doesn’t make sense to me because there’s already a lot of retail for the number of rooftops in that area,” he said. “You’re not going to draw a lot of tourists out there. You’ve already got 10 Louis Vuittons on the Strip.”

He’s seen retail comps of $238,000 an acre for a deal in April, or less than $6 a square foot, down to $148,000 an acre in North Las Vegas.

Distressed land sales involving a lender or trustee have accounted for the majority of transactions in Las Vegas, driving the average price for raw land in the second quarter to $154,665 an acre, down nearly 40 percent from a year ago, according to Applied Analysis business advisory service.

“Look, just the fact that we have transactions worth more than the improvement cost in the land is encouraging,” Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero said.

The last significant parcel to sell at a price above the Boca Park land was 19.6 acres near Cimarron and Warm Springs roads, which went for $12 million, or roughly $14 a square foot, in April 2009, Applied Analysis reported.

In August, Las Vegas-based Laurich Properties paid $4 million for 25 acres, or $3.67 a square foot, at U.S. Highway 95 and Horse Drive. Key Bank had foreclosed on the land.

Distressed sales are definitely dominating the market, Jones said. Sun Commercial has built a business platform around providing services to banks and special servicers of troubled loans, she said.

“It’s the biggest piece of our business right now by far,” she said.

Jones said she’s seeing small business owners who would normally have to lease space purchase second-generation buildings for low prices.

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

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