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Desert Companion

Making it home: Summerlin and surrounding areas

summerlintrailrooftopsd9106.jpg

Summerlin trail
Home photography, courtesy of Summerlin

Summerlin trail

City within the city

With intimate village feel, parks and Red Rock Canyon next door, Summerlin and its environs are, for many, the ‘best place to live’ 

 

Considering its auspicious beginnings, it’s not surprising that Summerlin is one of the most sought-after residential communities in the Vegas Valley.

In 1952, aviation pioneer and billionaire movie mogul Howard Hughes purchased 25,000 acres on the western outskirts of Las Vegas and called it “Husite.” He had grand plans for the area, which included an aviation center. The mercurial Hughes didn’t follow through on those plans, leaving the acreage undeveloped. When he died in 1976, the vacant land was passed to his heirs. Instead of commercial enterprises, they envisioned a master-planned community on the site. In 1988, Summa Corporation, forerunner of The Howard Hughes Corporation, announced plans for the community and it was renamed “Summerlin,” for Hughes’ paternal grandmother, Jean Amelia Summerlin.

Before any work began, the BLM worked a deal with Summa to exchange 5,000 acres next to Red Rock Canyon for 3,000 acres to the south, thereby protecting the environmentally important wooded canyons and desert washes from development. Summerlin Parkway, a six-mile freeway, was built in 1989. The “road to nowhere,” as the locals called it, connected the remote area with the rest of Las Vegas. In 1990, Red Rock Canyon became a National Conservation Area, and in 1991, the first family moved into Summerlin.

Support comes from

It’s easy to forget that Summerlin was ahead of its time, setting the standard for subsequent residential areas like Mountain’s Edge, Green Valley Ranch, Inspirada and Providence. Instead of adding parks and other amenities later, almost as an afterthought, green spaces were built into Summerlin’s design. It remains the largest of the valley’s master-planned communities, although its villages lend it a more intimate, neighborhood feel. 

Today, its proximity to Red Rock draws mountain climbers, hikers and bicyclists. Other residents find the lively, pedestrian-friendly ambiance appealing. With more than 150 parks, nine golf courses, 23 high-ranking public and private schools, the Summerlin Trail System and Downtown Summerlin, there are plenty of options for recreation, dining, shopping and employment nearby.

That’s probably why Summerlin was named one of Money magazine’s Best Places to Live in 2002 and 2014 — and why more than 100,000 Southern Nevadans call it home.

 

Variety pack

Homes for every lifestyle

From upscale starter homes to luxe custom homes

 

GREEN SPACE

The Pueblos

The Pueblo

The Pueblo, located west of Buffalo, south of Lake Mead and east of Rampart, is one of the original Summerlin developments. Homes in this 68-acre village were built in the early ’90s, in a range from starter homes to larger, single-family homes. A 1,164-square-foot single-family home with three bedrooms and two baths in The Pueblo was recently listed on Zillow for $204,999.

Pueblo Park, which takes up 62 of the village’s 68 acres, is a large part of this village’s appeal. Busy enough to feel safe, yet not too crowded, Pueblo Park offers striking views of the valley. Longer than it is wide, this linear park boasts large, grassy spaces, a well-maintained basketball court, two children’s play areas, a desert interpretive garden and an exercise station area. Along with the 4-foot-wide jogging path, there’s an 8-foot-wide multiuse path, which is a favorite of walkers taking their dogs for a stroll. With a park befitting the active lifestyle and rigorous HOA rules that keep the older homes looking remarkably good, The Pueblo remains an attractive choice for homebuyers.

 

CUSTOM LUXURY

The ridges

The Ridges

Built on 793 acres adjacent to the Spring Mountains, The Ridges is a guard-gated community of ultraluxurious custom and semicustom homes, many of which border the Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear’s Best Golf Course. Because it’s set high up on the southwestern edge of Summerlin, the views of Las Vegas are some of the best in the valley. With resident-only amenities like Club Ridges (a fitness center with five lighted tennis courts, a tennis lounge, a resort pool and a heated lap pool), vibrant landscaping and spectacular architecture, The Ridges is an exclusive oasis for the discerning homeowner. A 9,411-square-foot single-family home with five bedrooms and six bathrooms in The Ridges was recently listed on Zillow for $4,950,000.

 

RETIREMENT LIVING

Sun City

Sun City Summerlin

Retirees craving easy living and an endless array of things to do will find themselves at home in Sun City Summerlin. Built in 1998, its reasonably priced homes, amenities and views of the mountains and the Strip continue to draw residents. The community offers a variety of housing sizes. Smaller homes are less than 1,100 square feet, with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Larger homes are more than 3,000 square feet and come with three bedrooms. Home styles include single-family, garden villas and patio homes.

With five pools (two of them indoor), a softball field, tennis courts, a racquetball court, bocce ball, shuffleboard, miniature golf and more than 80 resident-organized clubs, there is plenty to do. Meet new friends or catch up with longtime pals at one of the four social and recreation facilities. Grab a bite at The Summit, Tavern at the Falls or Eagle Crest Snack Bar. Get out on the greens at one of three resident-owned golf courses, all of which were designed by PGA Hall-of-Famer Billy Casper and architect Greg Nash. Golf carts are permitted on all the roads within the community.  

A 1,713-square-foot single-family home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms in Sun City Summerlin was recently listed on Zillow for $499,900.

 

Hello, neighbor!

Rob Jensen

 Rob Jensen. Photography by Christopher Smith

Rock-climber Rob Jensen is putting his money where his hands go. Using profits from his luxury real-estate business, Rob Jensen Company, he is personally funding key rebolting efforts at climbing sites in Red Rock Canyon. Before the advent of bolt-protected climbing 20 years ago, scaling sheer rock faces was incredibly difficult. Anchoring permanent bolts into the rock at regular intervals made these surfaces scalable and led to the rise of sport climbing. Now Jensen is tackling the problem of Red Rock’s aging first-generation bolts. “The old steel bolts are getting to be 10, 15 to 20 years old and are starting to rust,” he says. “The gear that’s hanging on them is getting pretty ratty, as well.” Since rebolting is not as glamorous as putting up new climbing routes, it doesn’t get the same attention — and Jensen saw a way he could contribute. Along with providing supplies and equipment, he pays a climbing friend to replace the bolts. “He has the time and expertise,” Jensen says. For Jensen, who relocated from Southern California because of the year-round climbing here, investing in a project like this just makes sense. “It helps keep everyone protected, as well as boosting my own safety and convenience.”

 

In the neighborhood

Passeos

The Paseos

The Paseos is Summerlin’s westernmost village, and one of its most diverse. Some neighborhoods feature homes with rooftop decks. Others have covered patios, courtyards, casitas, wine cellars or home theaters. Most homes in the 768-acre Paseos are Hacienda- or Mission-style. Inspired by the architecture of the Spanish Catholic missions of the 18th century, these homes feature wood, iron, tile and pottery. Floor plans range from 1,849 to 3,943 square feet on lots as big as 10,000 square feet. Design elements are also made to order, with options such as gourmet kitchens and multigenerational suites. A path meanders through the center of the village, linking the neighborhoods to parks and each other.  

Santaluz is a gated neighborhood adjacent to The Paseos Park. Its single-story homes come in Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean or Mission architecture styles. In the gated neighborhood of Andorra, choose from two-car garages in Castille at Andorra or three-bay tandem garages in Seville at Andorra.

The upscale Allegra is The Paseos’ newest neighborhood. Each home has 8-foot double doors, open floor plans, dry bars, miradors and loggias, walk-in pantries, and 6-foot bathtubs.

Like all the villages in Summerlin, amenities in The Paseos harmonize with the active lifestyle. But The Paseos Park takes it up a notch. Along with the usual ball fields, walking paths and open grassy spaces, kids cool down at the massive splash pad or the covered playground. Meanwhile, their parents beat the heat in the shade of picnic pavilions. Neighborhoods are connected by a trail that winds through the village, and it’s only minutes to the 215 Beltway and Downtown Summerlin. Here, you can be bored only if you work at it.

 

Street smarts

West Charleston

For Summerlin and its environs, a place for offbeat popcorn, throwback food and sport

Popcorn Girl

Popcorn Girl.  Photo by Brent Holmes

When Las Vegas native Laurie Sabol couldn’t find a place in town to get gourmet popcorn, a kernel of an idea popped into her head. In 2009, she and co-owner Mark Smith opened the first Popcorn Girl in Summerlin (8550 W. Charleston Blvd., #109). Made fresh daily, there are more than 60 flavors to choose from. Fans aren’t restricted to the usual butter- or cheese-flavored options. Sabol’s passion for fun recipes has resulted in offbeat selections such as Banana Cream, Southwest Hot Wing and S’mores. The adventurous customer can tailor her order by mixing and matching any of the flavors. The shop also sells homemade fudge, old-fashioned sweets and theater candy. Visit popcorngirlvegas.com

In a town that’s constantly reinventing itself, there aren’t many restaurants that have been around for more than four decades, as has the Hush Puppy (7185 W. Charleston Blvd.). Opened by the Ghormley family in 1975, the Southern-style eatery serves a homemade seafood gumbo, frog legs, fried alligator and “some of the finest catfish west of the Mississippi.” Old-fashioned and homey, the Hush Puppy is a welcome alternative to the swanky dining Vegas is known for. Got room for dessert after a dinner of New Orleans fried oysters, collard greens and a corn cobbette? Try Sister Rosie’s homemade sweet potato pie, made with yams and real butter, or Georgia Pecan Pie made from scratch. thehushpuppy.com

Rock Climbing Center

Red Rock Climbing Center. Photo by Brent Holmes

Just minutes from the peaks of Red Rock Canyon, Red Rock Climbing Center (8201 W. Charleston Blvd., #150) is a one-stop shop for climbers. Climbing gear is available to rent or buy. Add an energy snack or beverage to keep you fueled and hydrated. Indoor climbers will appreciate the 35-foot walls with 100-foot-long routes and 1,000 square feet of overhangs and roof routes, all of which adds up to more than 8,000 square feet of climbing surface. Climbing lessons and sessions with personal instructors boost your rock-craft skills. Hire a mountain guide to accompany you to Red Rock. Sign up for a bouldering competition, enroll your kids in a summer climbing camp or book a birthday party at the gym. redrockclimbingcenter.com.

 

Core value Located just east of the 215 Beltway, Downtown Summerlin (1980 Festival Plaza Drive) is an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment venue. As the name indicates, it’s meant to serve as a kind of posh urban core, from Macy’s to Andiron Steak & Sea — with no urban grit to mar the fun.

 

Crown jewels

Indoors and out

Tivoli Village

Tivoli Village. Photo by Brent Holmes

Tivoli Village, on the corner of Rampart Boulevard and Alta Drive, is an outdoor enclave built to resemble a European hamlet. It combines urban walkability with old-world architecture and an exclusive mix of luxury retailers and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Feel free to bring your dog. Or stop into the upscale David Barton Gym for a sweat-inducing workout before grabbing a bite at one of the diverse restaurants.

• From serious cyclists to casual bikers, Summerlin has scenic bicycle routes to meet anyone’s needs. Beginners will appreciate the shaded bike lane that runs west along Alta Drive. The more hardcore can ride the popular 13-mile Red Rock Scenic Loop. The first five miles of the route climb 1,000 feet to the High Point Overlook. If you’re new to cycling, check out the group rides at McGhie’s (4035 S. Fort Apache Road, 702-252-8077) and Las Vegas Cyclery (8221 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-596-2953).

• Once the blistering heat of summer gives way to the more pleasant temperatures of fall, Southern Nevadans look forward to the Summerlin Festival of Arts. The free, two-day event takes place in early October and showcases paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculptures and mixed media. With live music, cooking demonstrations, food and drink available for purchase, and activities for kids, it’s easy to spend a whole day there.

 

Get out (or play in)

It’s not easy to be a couch potato here

Summerlin caters to those seeking an active lifestyle. Besides the 150-plus parks within its borders, it’s close to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The vibrant sandstone formations provide countless places to hike, bike and rock-climb, as well as see such wildlife as desert bighorn sheep, burros, mule deer and gray foxes.

Angel Park

Angel Park.  Photo courtesy of Angel Park Golf Club

Top-rated golf courses abound in Las Vegas. But top-rated doesn’t always equate to a top-notch experience. Some of those award-winning courses come with inflated fees, long waiting lists and attitude. Angel Park (100 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-254-4653) is not one of those. The 36-hole course was designed by pro golfer Arnold Palmer. Stunning views and an easygoing vibe have made it a popular spot to hit the greens. In the heat of summer, try Angel Park’s Cloud Nine Short Course or its putting course, both of which are lit for cooler night play.

The Summerlin Half Marathon is an annual favorite of runners and outdoor enthusiasts. The 13.1-mile jaunt winds through the community’s charming neighborhoods. With a mix of elevations, participants tackle a variety of terrain — lush parks, tunnels, and paths lined with desert landscaping. And the panoramic views of Red Rock and the Strip provide a perfect excuse to take a break and snap a photo.

 

Amenities & attractions

The young and the young-at-heart can paint their own ceramics at Color Me Mine (Village Square, 9350 W. Sahara Ave., 702- 522-7119). Walk-ins are welcome, and there’s a studio available for workshops and parties. Monthly events include Family Friday — for $20, a family of four shares pizza, trivia games and painting. For adults only, BYOB Fridays include live music, and guests can bring their own beverage.

Award-winning Centennial Hills Park (7101 N. Buffalo Drive) looks like it was created by kids for kids. Giant yellow flowers provide shade, and red toadstools replace conventional picnic tables. Let Fido romp in one of the two fenced-in dog runs. A fossil wall and giant steel sculptures of primeval animals, representing the creatures that once roamed the area, bring prehistory to life. A 3,500-seat grass amphitheater is used for films and plays.

Operated by the Summerlin Council, the Willows Community Center and Pool (2775 Desert Marigold Lane) offers programs and classes for the exclusive use of the residents. Classes run the gamut from the fundamentals of knitting to the basics of tai chi. The park is known for its four whimsical sculptures based on Aesop’s Fables.

 

Making the Grade

Area schools of special note

The Alexander Dawson School (10845 W. Desert Inn Road, 702-949-3600) is an independent, nonprofit school, serving preschool through eighth-grade students. On the guard-gated, 35-acre campus, core academics are supplemented with classes in Spanish, Mandarin and French. An emphasis on technology is supported by 350 student computers.

Student-to-teacher ratio: 6:1

Average class size: 18 students

Percentage of faculty with advanced degrees: 66

Sports offered: 9

 

Founded by Mayor Carolyn Goodman in 1984, the Meadows School (8601 Scholar Lane, 702-254-1610) is a private, nonprofit college-preparatory school serving preschool through 12th-grade students. Advocates say its small class sizes help maintain high academic standards. Classes on the 40-acre campus include 26 advanced-placement courses.

Student-to-teacher ratio: 9:1

Average class size: 11 students

Average SAT Score: 1920

Percentage of faculty with advanced degrees: 72

Sports offered: 13

 

Merryhill Elementary (5055 S. Durango Drive, 702-889-2803) serves students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Merryhill distinguishes itself from similar schools with project-based learning centered on environmental studies, global awareness, systems and leadership skills.

Student-to-teacher ratio: 10:1

Average class size: 15 Students

After-school programs: 20

Percentage of students who have a Personal Learning Plan: 100

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