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Las Vegas firm finishes Seattle high-rise with colorful history

A Las Vegas real estate firm has finished a Seattle high-rise that was left as a giant hole in the ground by its now-imprisoned former developer.

The Molasky Group of Cos., a longtime Southern Nevada developer, said this week that construction of Arrivé, a 43-story apartment and hotel tower in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, has wrapped up. The first resident moved in Jan. 7, and The Sound Hotel will open Feb. 12, said Rich Worthington, Molasky’s president and chief operating officer.

Molasky partnered with Chinese developer Hangzhou Binjiang Real Estate Group to build the tower, which features 344 apartments and 142 hotel rooms. As of Monday, 58 apartments had been leased, Molasky spokeswoman Pamela Puppel said.

No one is building a residential high-rise in Las Vegas, while Seattle – where incomes and rental rates are higher – has seen plenty of towers take shape in recent years. But Arrivé carries a volatile and unusual backstory with some strong Nevada connections.

Its former developer, Lobsang Dargey, is a Tibetan monk-turned-real-estate investor who married the sister of former tennis star and Las Vegas native Andre Agassi. There were also cash withdrawals from casinos and a flashy project that stalled after Dargey was accused of fraud.

Arrivé, 2116 Fourth Ave., has 10 floors of hotel rooms, 31 floors of apartments and two “mechanical” levels that aren’t occupied by anyone, Worthington said. It also features a bar and restaurant and a coffee shop.

Compared with Las Vegas, the prices are also a fortune.

The smallest and cheapest unit is a 412-square-foot studio that costs $1,585 per month, while the largest apartment is a 41st-floor penthouse that measures 1,869 square feet and costs $11,450 per month, Worthington said.

By comparison, Southern Nevada apartment dwellers paid an average of $1,059 in monthly rent last quarter, according to Reis Inc.

Dargey, now 45, was described in news reports as an immigrant from humble origins who became a successful real estate investor in the Seattle area. Growing up poor in Tibet, he herded sheep and goats, and his family carried water from a stream. He was born in his home, “next to a pig,” he once said.

He held a groundbreaking for Potala Tower — as the Arrivé project was formerly known — in 2014. But the Securities and Exchange Commission sued him in 2015, alleging Dargey and his companies raised at least $125 million for the tower and another project but diverted more than $17 million for other uses.

According to the SEC, he allegedly withdrew around $350,000 of investor funds in cash, including more than $200,000 from casinos in Nevada, California and elsewhere.

Dargey later pleaded guilty in a criminal case to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and a scheme to conceal information from the U.S. government, and agreed to pay $24 million in restitution. He was sentenced in 2017 to four years in prison and three years of supervised release.

He is incarcerated in Sheridan, Oregon, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

Molasky had announced a joint venture with its Chinese partner in fall 2016, saying they had “taken complete ownership and control” of the Potala Tower project — which, at the time, was basically a pit.

“We inherited a six-story hole in the ground,” Worthington said.

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

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