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Plan to sell Hsieh properties doesn’t dim downtown’s future, officials say

Updated February 19, 2021 - 10:18 am

With the late Tony Hsieh’s family looking to sell his downtown real estate holdings, a slew of properties in Las Vegas could change hands, putting vacant lots, apartments, offices, shuttered motels and other sites under new ownership.

And while it seems unlikely that one buyer will take them all, it’s too early to tell how quickly the properties would sell through the late tech mogul’s probate case, what prices they would fetch, or what it all means for the people who work or live in the buildings.

On Thursday, though, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, one of the most ardent cheerleaders of downtown and of Hsieh’s vision for it, weighed in that she was “absolutely supportive” of the family’s decision to sell his real estate.

Goodman acknowledged that Hsieh’s approach was one-of-a-kind and that she doesn’t “see anybody else carrying that banner.” Still, she said she remained “very confident” in downtown’s future.

Goodman suggested that the family’s decision to unload Hsieh’s holdings was better for downtown than if the family delayed a decision or changed its mind.

“If in fact this is an across-the-board opportunity for the properties in the heart of downtown, I think they are going to be gobbled up,” she said.

Downtown casino owner Derek Stevens, developer of the recently opened Circa, said he supports “any investor who wants to come in and put their money and passion” into the area.

“I think Las Vegas is going to come back pretty strong,” Stevens said.

‘Serious, written offers’

Hsieh, who died in November at age 46 from injuries suffered in a Connecticut house fire, was the face of downtown’s revival. He launched a side venture, now called DTP Companies, to invest $350 million in the Fremont Street area and moved online shoe seller Zappos from a Henderson office park to the former Las Vegas City Hall.

He also became one of downtown’s biggest property owners through DTP’s real estate binge.

An attorney for Hsieh’s father and brother, co-special administrators of the former Zappos chief executive’s estate, filed more than 90 notices Wednesday in Clark County District Court, disclosing plans to sell dozens of his properties. The notices did not include appraised values or minimum bids but said the Hsieh family would sell each property “to the highest and best bidder.”

According to the filings, sales are subject to court confirmation at a hearing scheduled for March 19 or within a year of that date, and each deal has the same terms: “Cash.”

Dara Goldsmith, the Hsieh family lawyer in the mogul’s probate case, said in an email Thursday that the properties “are not being listed for sale at this time” and that notices are being filed and published “to allow for a possible future sale.”

She also noted that Hsieh’s estate “may retain” some or all of the parcels and that once the publication process is complete, the estate “will consider reviewing serious, written offers.”

Las Vegas real estate broker Hayim Mizrachi, president of MDL Group, which has multiple listings downtown, said it’s unlikely one buyer would pick up all of Hsieh’s holdings, given the varied properties and the businesses they house.

Mizrachi said many people might view the offering terms as a sign that the Hsiehs are willing to sell at a discount, though he noted that downtown has a lot of activity, and a low-priced sell-off isn’t justified, unless the estate needs money for something.

‘Take the baton’

As outlined in court filings, Hsieh’s parcels are largely scattered around the Fremont Street area. They include the former Western Hotel, the Atomic Liquors building, the Downtown Container Park food and retail complex, and Zappos’ headquarters, which he acquired in October for $65 million from the former landlord after he was replaced as the retailer’s CEO.

“The potential sale of our downtown campus is purely a real estate decision in which Zappos is not involved,” a Zappos spokesperson told the Review-Journal. “A new potential buyer will not affect our business operations, or our current active lease.”

Downtown real estate owner Adam Foulad, of KLA Capital, said that he had been interested in some of Hsieh’s properties over the years but that the tech guru wasn’t interested in selling.

He also figures multiple buyers will snatch up Hsieh’s holdings rather than a single investor and that downtown will further blossom.

“With what Tony’s already started, you can take the facilities and you take the baton and run with it. … Too many of them have been sitting by, boarded up, with nothing going on,” Foulad said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Subrina Hudson, Shea Johnson and Bailey Schulz contributed to this report.

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