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City Of Las Vegas, Developers Seek To Woo More Residents Downtown

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Proximity to the Fremont East entertainment district's restaurants and nightlife is a selling point for the Ogden in downtown Las Vegas.

From swanky high-rise penthouses to 170-square-foot micro-units, downtown Las Vegas has a lot of residential living options — and city officials want to get that word out.

Downtown Las Vegas is putting out the welcome mat this week with a series of events to promote living in the city’s urban core. Wednesday night, the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance in partnership with the city of Las Vegas is putting on a panel discussion on what needs to be done to make downtown living more attractive.

“We took a big bet on Las Vegas — almost a half-billion-dollar bet,” said Uri Vaknin whose KRE Capital joined other investors in 2013 to purchase a portfolio of Las Vegas properties, including downtown’s Ogden and Juhl. “We saw the promise of downtown; we saw things happening downtown.”

Vaknin, a participant in Wednesday night’s panel discussion, told State of Nevada that an improving economy, good governance, low taxes, developments such as the Smith Center, and the energy of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project made downtown Las Vegas an attractive location.

“I don’t think we would have purchased this portfolio if it had not been for Downtown Project," he said.

Now, as the city continues its recovery, Vaknin's group is starting to move the properties it owns from rentals to condos. He said The Ogden is 67 percent sold and they're starting to sell apartments in Juhl as the lease agreements expire for current residents. 

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He said many of the people buying the condos are empty nesters looking to downsize their homes. 

“Las Vegas is like every other city in America where you have people wanting to move back to the urban core," he said, "You have people who want to have that urban experience.”

John Curran is the real estate portfolio manager for the Downton Project, which has 700 residential units downtown, with nearly 250 more on the way. Curran's properties are mostly rentals. He said he is seeing a combination of people renting from empty nesters to millennials. 

Curran said the properties aim to create more social living environments.

“Everything we build we try to maximize our three ‘C’s and one of those C’s is collisions,” he said, explaining that by 'collisions' he means people being able to meet their neighbors in open environments.

“Downtown Las Vegas is such a unique neighborhood… there’s a sort of charm and character to the neighborhood that you don’t find in a lot of other parts of the valley,” Curran said.

Also as part of this week’s focus on urban living, the city is hosting the “Livin’ in the City” housing fair on Thursday that offers residential properties a chance to show their stuff.

Both events are at Las Vegas City Hall, and they’re free and open to the public.

Guests

Uri Vaknin and John Curran, downtown Las Vegas developers

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