New housing in Las Vegas has typically meant expanding into the wide-open spaces that surround the city.
Now more developers are looking to build on available land in existing neighborhoods, a process known as infill development. Along with creating new housing options closer to town, infill development slows sprawl and the expensive infrastructure that comes with it.
Las Vegas Councilman Brian Knudsen told State of Nevada that much of the city is landlocked and it needs to start growing up as well as out.
“We don't have enough housing right now, just in the city of Las Vegas alone, we're short 50,000 units,” he said. “The water authority tells us that structures that are four stories or higher are going to be far more efficient for water. And so that's really where we're going to go in the city of Las Vegas, allowing for that density.”
Andrew Woods, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said infill development needs to be part of Southern Nevada’s future because the area’s relentless growth will only continue.
“Over the next 40 years where we're anticipating an additional million people living here in Southern Nevada. So I think it's going to be this combination of how do we make sure that we are building density as well as meeting the needs of our residents because you have to find jobs, you have to figure out the education portion, the housing portion of this, the transportation and mobility portion of this.”
Knudsen said that an embrace of infill development is going to require a change in the Las Vegas mindset.
“I have found that everybody is against (infill development) if it's going to be near them. And that's unfortunate,” he said “I think we have to rethink what Southern Nevada is.”
He said new thinking includes “working with private developers to understand how density is better for the environment; how we can work with the RTC to create transit options (and) put places near where people are going to work and go to school and buy food and get healthcare.”
Las Vegas Realtors President Aldo Martinez said that even though Southern Nevada home prices are at record highs — the median price if a resale single-family home just hit $405,000 — there is little incentive in the market for a dramatic increase in the pace of construction.
“If they can build them slowly, they can get maximize the profit levels on those houses. If they actually sped up the development of homes throughout the valley, then the demand would start to diminish,” he said.
“The supply issue that we're having right now would also get a lot of relief. We were hoping they do that. But you know, they've got a lot of different things that they're dealing with labor, lumber land, all the traditional things.”
Brian Knudsen, Las Vegas councilman, Ward 1; Aldo Martinez, president, Las Vegas Realtors; Andrew Woods, director, UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research
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