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Manhattan developer will take time, health

Developer Alex Edelstein was constantly thinking of ways to improve his Manhattan mid-rise luxury condo community from the first day of design.

It’s a business philosophy retained from his background in the technology industry. Make the next product better than the last one.

Edelstein, chief executive officer of Gemstone Development, said he’s focusing on “three pillars” for his new project, Manhattan West, which starts primary site excavation next week on Russell Road, just west of the Las Vegas Beltway.

“Time, health and social,” Edelstein said in his office at the sales center that’s under construction at 9121 W. Russell Road. “The true luxuries in life are time and health, not granite and Danish cabinets. Time and health add up to social quality.”

Gemstone acquired the 20-acre parcel last year for about $30 million. It was financed by Theraldson Financial Group, the same lender on the $180 million, 700-unit Manhattan condo at Las Vegas Boulevard and Serene Avenue.

Manhattan West will also have 700 condo units in 12 buildings, including a nine-story tower and four-story buildings similar to Manhattan. Edelstein said he can afford to build the high-rise with a sky lounge and clubhouse on the top floor because the costs will be amortized across the other less expensive buildings.

The mixed-use development calls for 150,000 square feet of office over 50,000 square foot of retail and underground parking. Apco Construction is general contractor and Denver-based Oz Architecture is the designer.

Reservations are being taken at about $300 a square foot, but Edelstein said he’s already made his first price increase. Average units are selling in the $400,000, though some units are in the $300,000s and a 554-square-foot studio starts at a little more than $200,000.

Edelstein said he understands the housing market is soft in Las Vegas, but he loves the fact that only 1,200 residential building permits were pulled in February when 6,782 new residents moved to town.

“The reason I felt comfortable putting half my net worth in this project is because I feel strongly about medium-term fundamentals and job growth over the years,” he said.

But Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research, questioned the economics of building another condo project in the southwest Las Vegas Valley, where Sullivan Square, Luxe Lofts and Promenada at Rainbow are also planned.

“There’s a bunch of them,” he said. “The density and resulting traffic in the area will be a nightmare. Just because it works on the South Strip (Manhattan) does not mean it will meet the same success in the southwest area. It’s a different area and there’s lots of competition. It’s a different market and different times.”

Edelstein tells a story about one of his residents at Manhattan coming up to him and saying he’d met more people in two months of living there than he’d met in his previous six years in Las Vegas.

“We actually improve the quality of life of people instead of delivering empty pictures of pretty people in brochures,” he said.

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