New World Market Center owner no stranger to Las Vegas real estate

World Market Center, the massive furniture-showroom hall downtown, opened last decade with hopes of knocking off an industry giant.

Then-Mayor Oscar Goodman hailed its debut as “a defining moment” for Las Vegas, months after saying residents of a rival showroom town in North Carolina should be “committing suicide” or looking to come here.

The hyped project later ran into steep financial problems and changed hands. Now it’s being sold again, to a company that can’t seem to buy enough Las Vegas real estate.

New York investment giant The Blackstone Group has reached a deal to buy International Market Centers, or IMC, which owns and operates the 5.4 million-square-foot World Market Center as well as 6.8 million square feet of showroom space in High Point, North Carolina, the companies announced last week.

Terms of the sale, by IMC owners Bain Capital and Oaktree Capital Management, were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

Blackstone’s purchase is its latest bet on Southern Nevada. In the past several years it bought hundreds of homes to turn into rentals; the 68-acre Hughes Center office park; The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a 3,000-room hotel on the Strip; and three suburban apartment complexes.

It’s also a new chapter for a colossal project that got derailed by the recession but is said to be getting back on its feet.

‘The Great Recession was a Great Depression’

World Market Center, on Grand Central Parkway at Bonneville Avenue, rents year-round showroom space to home-furnishings suppliers. It also hosts two industry gatherings per year that typically last a week and draw 45,000 attendees each, IMC chief executive Bob Maricich said.

World Market Center’s occupancy rate was 56 percent in 2011, when Bain and Oaktree acquired the Las Vegas and High Point properties. The rate is now in the high 80s, Maricich said, adding that management expects World Market Center to be fully occupied in one to two years.

All told, it’s been a turnaround for a project that he said was “broadly looked at as a failure.”

“The Great Recession was a Great Depression for anything to do with furniture,” he said.

Asked if changes are being planned for the property, Blackstone spokesman Matt Anderson said the new owners are “at an early stage,” as the sale was just announced.

“At this point, we’re looking forward to working with IMC’s talented management team to review opportunities for future growth,” he said in an email.

‘Doesn’t he sell hot dogs?’

Developed by the Related Cos. and partners Jack Kashani and Shawn Samson, World Market Center opened in 2005 with one building. It expanded in 2007 with a second building and again in 2008 with a third, plus a 3,600-car parking garage.

It was supposed to be even bigger – at one point, plans called for eight buildings spanning 12 million square feet, according to Related.

Goodman initially was lukewarm. “All I see right now is a bunch of blocks and circles,” he said in 2001, a month after the City Council approved design plans, the Review-Journal reported.

But in 2002, he said it was a “historic occasion” when the City Council approved property-tax breaks worth a potential $40 million for the project. And in fall 2004, more than a year after World Market Center broke ground, he offered some advice to residents of a major furniture-industry hub.

“If I lived in High Point, North Carolina, I’d either be committing suicide” or “looking for a ticket to come out here to Las Vegas,” Goodman said, adding his city was “the new furniture capital of the world.”

Like countless other projects in town, World Market Center was hit hard by the recession. Tenants missed rental payments, and a judge in 2011 appointed a receiver to take charge of at least part of the property after lenders sued the ownership over alleged unpaid debts, according to court records and news reports. The appointment came before Bain and Oaktree bought the property.

Goodman said on Tuesday that he heard project proposals all the time, and “they all sounded alike after a while.” But World Market Center’s developers were persistent and “true believers” who, like other builders, wanted to be “part of a new beginning” for downtown, he said.

Asked whether the suicide comment was tongue-in-cheek, Goodman said: “Not really.” Las Vegas was taking on an industry powerhouse, and it looked like the city might win, he said.

People in High Point laughed off the suicide remark, the RJ reported. As one showroom consultant there quipped at the time, in an apparent reference to Oscar Mayer wieners:

“Oscar? Doesn’t he sell hot dogs or something?”

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

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
eyecandylab CEO shows augmented reality during NAB
Robin Sho Moser, CEO and co-founder of eyecandylab gives an augmented reality demonstration at his booth during the National Association of Broadcaster Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Trends in access to capital for local black business owners
Denette Braud, owner of Braud’s Funnel Cake Cafe, talks about what owning her own business means to her.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Adobe unveils #HackTheBracket application for March Madness
Adobe unveiled their #HackTheBracket application at the Adobe Summit trade show at Sands Expo. People can use data from Adobe Analytics to make their bracket for March Madness. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Adidas Signs Yankees' Star Aaron Judge
Adidas Signs New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge The slugger is set to don a new set of stripes this season after signing with the apparel company. Aaron Judge Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes branding on his batting gloves and wristbands. Judge, the AL's reigning Rookie of the Year, was previously under contract with Under Armour since 2014. Judge won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after setting an MLB record for most homers in a rookie season (52).
Esports athletes are sponsored, too
Meet Red Bull-sponsored professional esports player Daryl S. Lewis, better known by his in-game name Snake Eyez. Nicole Raz Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettor Investments turned into a bad bet
Bettor Investments formerly operated a Nevada-licensed entity betting operation. The company promised “conservative growth, profits and stability for our investors.” Matt Stuart, who ran the fund, shut it down in late 2016 and never made good on an agreement with shareholders.
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design Get your thinking caps on because the company is looking for a new cup that's easier to recycle. The $10 million grant challenge sees Starbucks partnering with investor group Closed Loop Partners for the project. According to CNN Money, Aside from the new cup design challenge, Starbucks stated it will test a cup with an inner lining made from plant fibers to prevent hot liquid from leaking. Will you join the challenge for #Bettercups?
Las Vegas bartenders who worked the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival question what they were paid
Reneé Black, left, and her husband Griffin Black talk to the Review-Journal at their home in Las Vegas, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Reneé was a bartender at Route 91, and Griffin was a bar back. They were hired as independent contractors, but received forms months later indicating they were employees. They also were never paid their last day of tips. Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like