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Sahara Center set for early fall 2014 opening

Heavy machinery growls as it grades the earth. Tractor-trailers shudder as they receive tons of debris. A flurry of activity is preparing the nearly 20-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Sahara Avenue and Hualapai Way to become a shopping center.

Developer Sahara Center LLC broke ground Nov. 5. Construction is underway for signed tenants such as HomeGoods, Petco, T.J. Maxx, Stein Mart and Sprouts Farmers Market.

In addition to the major tenants, the 220,000-square-foot Sahara Center at 10000 W. Sahara Ave. promises to include other as-yet-unnamed national and regional brands. The center is slated to include pads fronting Sahara Avenue and Hualapai Way and free-standing tenants such as food and beverage establishments.

The construction activity met with mixed emotions from those in the area.

“I don’t want anything to go in,” said a woman who identified herself as Rebecca K. “We have a lot of shopping centers, and they are underutilized. The one down on the corner with the movie theater, that’s, like, 70 percent empty. That’s my beef with all that. We have enough existing properties that we should be filling those and not (creating more).”

Norma Pelayo, manager of the Rebel gas station adjacent to the project, said it would be good for business and “bring more customers. So, it’s going to help us a lot.”

Pelayo said the construction activity has been the topic of patrons’ conversation lately.

“People are asking about it almost every day,” she said. “They ask what’s going to be built. Some people are happy and excited about it. Others say, ‘It’ll bring too much traffic.’ ”

Ted Baker, Sahara Center’s retail leasing consultant with NewMarket Advisors, said residential neighborhoods on the west side of town have been underserved in terms of national and regional retailers.

“Despite the cloud of economic uncertainty over the past five years, the demand for mid-box retail in this area has never waned,” he said. “Sahara Center brings a new and exciting shopping experience from nationally recognized brands.”

The center is expected to open at near or full capacity. The company said the healthy leasing activity is indicative of the area’s better-than-average household incomes.

Sahara Center LLC is a member of the EHB Cos. family. EHB Cos. is responsible for Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd., which recently began phase two of building, as well as developing the One Queensridge Place residential towers.

View Neighborhood Newspapers last reported on the space destined to be Sahara Center in fall 2012, and developers said it took that much time to pull it together.

Asked what the most challenging part is, Baker responded, “Good question.”

“There has been a surprising absence of malady there,” he said. “It’s gone very smoothly, which is very unusual. We really haven’t had any extraordinary challenges.”

Developers must have tenants signed before they can break ground. Baker said, “if you’re able to pre-lease a project 40 percent, you’ve done a great job. However, in the new lending paradigm, you’d better be 55 or 60 percent for a bank to touch you.”

He said the project was 58 percent leased when it broke ground.

“I’m a real estate guy, not an economist, but it certainly speaks to the continued demand for retail space in the Summerlin trade area,” Baker said. “… We’re not in Summerlin, we’re across the street from Summerlin. … Retailers break the market up into different trade areas. So, where Costco might have five trade areas in Las Vegas, McDonald’s might have 110. For the mid-box retailers, it’s the Summerlin trade area.”

Opening is scheduled for early fall 2014. In September 2012, the group had eyed early 2013 for a groundbreaking. It had also remarked then that a Walmart product was a possibility for the site.

Baker said there is no Walmart component to the project.

“We sure got a lot of calls about that, though,” he said.

The project is expected to create more than 200 construction jobs over the next year and several hundred permanent jobs.

Frank Pankratz, president of EHB Cos., said the city will benefit financially in terms of building permit fees and both sales and property tax revenues.

Baker said EHB’s architect and partner, Yohan Lowie, had such an impressive concept for the architecture of the project that it was hard to fully convey on paper.

“Pinning down the design look on paper has been a challenge,” Baker said, adding that the center would be on par with the architectural integrity of Tivoli Village, “but in a way like an apple and an orange are on par with each other, in that they’re both fruit. To that extent, they’ll both be retail centers, but Tivoli is more of a lifestyle, live-work-play retail environment, where Sahara and Hualapai will be a retail center. So, you’ll see some of the same dramatic type of architectural elements but in a different design theme.”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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