At first glance, Boulder City doesn’t seem like the best spot for a homebuilding project.
It’s a slow-growing community by design. City officials cap the number of homebuilding permits they issue each year – and developers aren’t exactly scrambling to grab them.
Las Vegas builder Wayne Laska, however, sees a dearth of competition and has launched what he says is Boulder City’s first large-scale housing tract in nearly 30 years.
Laska, owner of StoryBook Homes, is developing a roughly 30-acre, 127-home community called Boulder Hills Estates, near the corner of Adams and Buchanan boulevards. He said work crews started building houses in September.
Laska, who is buying the project site from the city, said he is acquiring the land in roughly 10-acre chunks for $300,000 per acre. He closed escrow on the first phase in March 2018, paying just over $3 million, property records show.
The Las Vegas Valley has been growing fast for decades, but the same can’t be said for Boulder City, which, situated some 30 miles southeast of the Strip, boasts a small-town feel and outlaws casinos within city limits.
Its population was around 15,970 in 2017, up 6.7 percent from 2000. By comparison, Clark County overall had 2.2 million residents in 2017, up 60 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Asked why he wanted to build in a low-growth area, Laska said Boulder City is a “phenomenal community” with parks, strong schools and a “very limited amount of competition” from other builders.
Michael Mays, Boulder City’s director of community development, said that prior to Laska’s project, the last production subdivision in the city dates to the mid-1990s.
Under its growth-control ordinance, Boulder City will issue no more than 120 permits per fiscal year for residential development, including a max of 30 permits for any one project, Mays said. The cap does not apply to people who build their own house, he noted.
The city issued 75 single-family residential building permits in 2018 – by far the highest tally in years, buoyed in part, according to Mays, by Laska.
Before that outlier year, homebuilders pulled an average of only about 12 single-family permits annually from 2010 to 2017, city data show.
Laska is also building in a city that, amid tight supply, typically commands higher home prices, according to Rhonda Sledge, owner of Boulder City brokerage firm BC Adobe Realty.
Prices at Boulder Hills Estates start around $410,000, with one model starting around $520,000, according to StoryBook’s website.
By comparison, the median sales price of newly built homes in the Las Vegas Valley last year was about $383,700, according to SalesTraq, the residential research arm of Las Vegas consulting firm Applied Analysis.
Sledge, who has lived in Boulder City for more than 30 years, said small housing tracts have popped up “here and there” over the years. In construction-crazed Las Vegas, anything built in the 1970s or earlier is viewed as practically pre-historic, but Sledge said it’s not uncommon for Boulder City residents to live in a decades-old home.
Still, newly built houses “seem to sell well,” she said.
“We can always use new homes,” she said.