Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Basin and Range and Subdivisions

Here's my story today in the Biz section on the Las Vegas housing market. the housing crisis in Vegas is unusually visible, simply because it's brand new metropolis built in a desert -- in a great basin surrounded by mountains, and there are no trees or any kind of pre-existing city to obscure the newly developed subdivisions.

IMG_4119.jpg


IMG_4107.jpg


IMG_4139.jpg


IMG_4169.jpg


I had a lot of help from people who didn't wind up in the story -- for example, George McCabe, who is in PR and works with the association of Realtors, and also Patty Kelley, the president of that association. George showed me around and gave me lots of background. In Vegas an "established" neighborhood is one that's been around a decade. So many of the neighborhoods have been built in the past four or five years. They're still building some houses, but not many, maybe a quarter of what they were building several years ago. The big hope is that the gambling tycoons will keep putting up luxury hotel-casinos and generating new jobs.

People will always want to gamble. And the sun's not going to stop shining anytime soon.

IMG_4163.jpg

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 30, 2008; 7:54 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: You Get What You Pay For
Next: Those Georgetown Conservatives

Comments

Waitaminute, shouldn't this have stayed in Vegas?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | October 30, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I particularly like the Serrano development's emphasis on the local CACTUS...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 30, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Not to be a naysayer, but I heard business in the AC casinos and the PA slot parlors was down. Staying in the market is enough gambling for lots of folks.

Philly DJ this morning, describing downtown. "The entire city looks like it has a hangover."

Business is brisk in commemorative t-shirts, I imagine they're on websites as well, if anyone's interested.

Posted by: -dbG- | October 30, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Where will the water come from?

Morning boodle!

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 30, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning dear Boodle.

Not that good. At 10:30 last night, one of the lawyers said he was going to make two changes to a large document we've been working on, and then send it to the lawyer-in-charge in our Toronto office. Only he
didn't, and at 5:00 this morning I got an email from l-i-c, all in caps, with exclamation marks, yelling at me.

Then my local lawyer admitted it was his fault, but did the l-i-c apologize for his bad behaviour? No, he did not.

So that was a less pleasant start to the day than I usually like to enjoy.

Grrrr.

Good thing I had my BP meds handy, though my ears are still bright red with rage.

Posted by: Yoki | October 30, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

*faxin' Yoki a speed bag (l-i-c picture optional) and some 10 oz. gloves*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 30, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I will always enjoy books. Blogs shall never replace them, for you cannot use blogs to prop up wobbly tables. -Hodgman

That is all.

Posted by: -tao- | October 30, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Not that I've visited since around 1971, but Philadelphia comes across as a partially-redundant city. Lots of medical schools and universities, some office buildings in center city, culture. But didn't nearly everybody flee to the burbs?

Las Vegas' abrupt (and abruptly-ended) growth spurt is spectacular, but maybe it's unusual only in that the massive growth was attached to a relatively small pre-existing city with a very unusual economy. California's Coachella Valley grew just as spectacularly.

I worry about post-boom. Local economies seem to come and go fast, along with notions of what's a desirable place to live. We Americans don't seem to have a Dutch sense of needing to live within existing boundaries (the Netherlands is a remarkable sight on Google Earth. I've never seen anything so orderly).

Anyhow, the latest innovation in Orlando seems to be apartment buildings (condos?) with built-in parking decks. Kind of strange to see concrete parking structures being wrapped in wooden housing for people.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 30, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Send me the SOB's e-mail address, Yoki; I'd be more than happy to "discuss" this matter with him. And I'll cc the l-i-c's boss, too, just for good measure.

Good housing story there, Joel. But I've got a few ideas. One problem is that everyone is looking at this as a "housing" glut. To some extent, this is more a failure of imagination than anything. What people think they see are too many housing units -- and single-family housing units (often upscale) at that. But they aren't "houses"; they are simply "buildings," and buildings have other uses besides housing (or at least, conventional Ozzie-and-harriet Nelson type housing).

For instance, if someone could buy up one of these entire developments, you wouldn't necessarily have "a hundred homes"; instead, what you'd have is a 300- or 400-bed hospital, laid out in small modular units. There's nothing that says a hospital ward with 20 rooms has to be located on the 6th floor of a high-rise. With a little conversion work and some creativity, it'd be a piece of cake--and a helluva lot nicer than most conventional hospitals would ever be. Parking would be evenly dispursed around the neighborhood, and there'd be electric or propane golf carts all over. Some units could be converted into operating suites, ICUs, etc.

Another cluster could be a nursing home/assisted care/senior citizen complex, arranged pretty much along the same lines as the hospital, only with 3-- or four-bedroom units instead of 8 or 10 or however many they have no in these units.

They could also include halfway houses, and even minimum security prisons to relieve prison overcrowding by collecting all the low-risk "trusties" and similar types and putting them in these compounds. Another cluster could become a univeristy, complete with built-in dormitoriesetc. (When I went to college at Temple University back in the late 60s, a sizable number of departments and classrooms where in the row houses immediately adjacent to and mixed among the "traditional" buildings there. The journalism "school" was in a three-story row house on Broad Street, which included all its offices as well as two or three classrooms. The Poli. Sci. dept. was immediately across the street, also in a row house. Hell, the student union was in Wiatt Hall, which was nothing but two adjacent row houses that had some interior walls removed. The office of the Temple News, of which I was editor, occupied the entire second floor.)

A cluster of a hundred housing units could become a fully functioning resident campus university in about two weeks, if there's a good Home Depot and a good Staples nearby.

And let's see, how many thousands of people lost their homes in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast due to Katrina? And how many empty housing units did you say there were in Vegas? 28,000, wasn't it? Let's see: FEMA trailers with formaldehyde versus existing, stone-empty housing units in Vegas...

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I doubt she lurks here, but just in case, I want to give a happy birthday shout out to Frostsis#1. Also born on Oct. 30, Pres. John Adams. Frostsis#2 celebrated a birthday on Oct. 27, Theodore Roosevelt's birthday. Ma Frostbitten shares a birthday with Thomas Jefferson, though we had to disabuse Frostdottir of the notion that she knew him personally. Alas, I was not born on any US president's birthday. Then again, it could be worse. Better no president than one of the worst. (That's a taste of Minnesota Optimism)

Some conservative organization is calling Minnesotans and questioning their voter registration. They find voters who have moved and not yet changed the address on their registration then imply that this is voter fraud. Sneaky, sneaky. It is too late to register, or change your address, for this election-unless you do it in person, at the polls, on election day. I guess it was too much to hope that same day registration would somehow stop these voter suppression efforts. I wonder what they do in ND where there is no registration at all.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 30, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps torches and pitchforks, frosti?? *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 30, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-excellent proposals in your 9:48. My greatest frustration with the size of the federal government is not that it is too expensive, or meddling in places it shouldn't be, but that by its very size it is not nimble enough to act on ideas such as yours. In our fair city we are working with a for profit developer to bring some low income senior rental housing to the former school building. While 5-6 units, at least to start, would make the most sense-to get financing he needs to do 12 units. Should it be successful beyond our wildest dreams he could build no more than 14. To go over 14 we'd need to have city water and sewer-something we'd never be able to afford.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 30, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I like the way you are thinking Mudge.

The housing market is almost balanced again. Prices have fallen to sensible levels after two years of almost insane price rises. I'm pretty sure its going to be slow selling lots and homes this summer but the developers continue apace. They are clearing and scraping back soil over acres and acres of land. Its almost obscene.

The part that really gets my goat is that they county council calls it progress. Progress should be about making things better, not just about excessive growth.

Posted by: --dr-- | October 30, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So what you need is either to change the law regarding the city water requirement (which is probably not doable), OR to set up bunches of small corporations each of which builds a 14-or-less cluster. And if each of these mini-corporations is owned by the same holding company, well...that's why Yoki's lawyers have jobs.

Wherever there is some sort of restriction there's almost always a lawyer who can find some sneaky way around it. And if it's in a good cause, so much the better.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Good article and kit.

Mudge, good outadabox thinking. Please reserve me a minimum security cell/suite and trustie position. I'll commit an adequate crime to suit the punishment once I see pitchahs of the arrangement.

Posted by: Braguine | October 30, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, friends. I feel better already.

The greatest fear in Canada is that under NAFTA or FTA (if such a thing ever is ratified) Canadian water will be piped down to subdivisions where no lawn or garden was ever meant to thrive.

Posted by: Yoki | October 30, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Mudge-I like your thinking, but we've been there. If we wanted to cluster single family homes into a "non-development development" with different ownership we could. Unfortunately we'd also have to dig separate wells for each unit and wouldn't have enough distance between septic/well/dwelling even if it wasn't cost prohibitive.

Not to worry, we'll get it done-but quickly, swiftly, and nimbly, will never describe how it happens. It's only been 2 years in the making at this point. We've gone from fighting the school district to get the building in the first place to having a plan, and a developer willing to do it. What's another 2-4 years to groundbreaking? I'm term limiting myself so we better do it in 2.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | October 30, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, I was disenfranchised in 2000 because I DID update my address but moved too late to get on the voter registration rolls, and I was told I'd have to drive to my old preninct to vote-- like 30 minutes before the polls closed (I had a long commute back then).

Encourage everybody to phone their old location to verify their registration.

And those conservative groups can go stick a cigar up their rectums. People move unexpectedly in the final 30-40 days before election day due to job loss and other circumstances that shouldn't bar them from voting.

I suppose the homeless aren't allowed to vote, either?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | October 30, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

That's the conundrum facing Vegas and most of the southwest--where does the water come from? L.A. pirated the Owens River back in the '20's and '30's, and then came Hoover Dam, which was supposed to solve the water issue. However, the Colorado River is now oversubscribed. In dry times, no water from the river actually gets to the Gulf of Calfornia. Global warming is reducing the snowfall in the Sierras, forecasting future shortages in the San Fernando Valley where most of our winter vegetables come from. If you think we're going to be in dire straits when the oil starts running low, think about not having enough potable and arable water.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 30, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Like the notion of flooding the Rocky Mountain Trench and somehow sending its water to San Diego?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey, DoTC, downtown Philadelphia is alive and well, there was a resurgence after you left.

www.philly.com has fan paraphenalia (why does that would wirdy?).

Posted by: -dbG- | October 30, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

SCC: would? sound.

Posted by: -dbG- | October 30, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

completely off-topic but aren't we having a financial crisis???

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/30/AR2008103001401.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: mortii | October 30, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Some of those photos look like the set of Arrested Development. :-)

Posted by: 1KatPage | October 30, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

First of all, Joel, "Gambling Capital is Flush With Empty Houses" - very nice.

This piece is full of wonderful little nuggets from the empty-house by empty-house warfare to the closing line about betting against Vegas.

I'm sure Steven Lu's real estate broker has heard every joke possible regarding his/her name (Joel's text is notably ambigious), so I'm not going to go there.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | October 30, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

So what you need is either to change the law regarding the city water requirement (which is probably not doable), OR to set up bunches of small corporations each of which builds a 14-or-less cluster. And if each of these mini-corporations is owned by the same holding company, well...that's why Yoki's lawyers have jobs.

Wherever there is some sort of restriction there's almost always a lawyer who can find some sneaky way around it. And if it's in a good cause, so much the better.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm about half crazed now. Just heard that my peeps at the local paper got a bioterror scare letter. Batards. Then came FBI everywhere, I heard.

For another place with surprisingly well-controlled development, Google-earth Australia. \

Mudge's country-music comment reminded me to turn on my Pandora internet radio "country" station. I tweaked and warped it as an experiment a while back to see if it could program country music that I actually enjoy. (normally, I DO NOT). It's oddly successful, and markedly non-normal. It just played Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, and now it's picked Neil Young doing After the Gold Rush, followed by Girl by Beatles. ??? Still, it knows what I like. I will continue to recommend this highly.

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 30, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I'd feel bad about that inexplicable double post -- but it's happening to all of us. Mumble mumble grumble.

It just makes me a little bit bat-s--- crazy that there are homeless people in X location and empty homes in Y location.

Yoki, you're gonna be shipping us your water? You guys don't sounded exactly thrilled about that, and I don't blame you. Details?

I don't have a solution, but it seems to me to be absolutely nuts to be building (all economy questions aside), massive housing projects in the desert, where there is no water. Its every bit as dumb as building beachfront housing in hurricane zones. But I don't know of any way to stop it or require rational land use. There's lots of days when I think that, as a species, we need to stop bragging about how smart we are.

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey, CP, didja see this piece about your former peeps up in Montana? Pretty interesting. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/29/AR2008102904331.html?hpid=artslot

I especially like the questions Hapgood raises in the 6th graf: "So how do the people here get to know the accomplishments, artistry, pain and jubilation of more than 36 million Americans? How do they begin to understand Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, who could become the first black president? Particularly when they may never have seen a black mayor, a black school principal or even a black shift supervisor?"

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

jumper - i'm with you on pandora - LOVE IT. i have it on my iphone and i absolutely love the playlists it comes up with. unfortunately, i can't use it on my work computer.

and i DO NOT like country music either - maybe i'll give it a shot on pandora...

Posted by: mortii | October 30, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Ron Paul will be on the Montana ballot as a selection for President by a third party. I have not seen any polls attempting to predict the effect of that.
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/09/ron-paul-to-appear-on-montana-ballot.html

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 30, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul will be on the Montana ballot as a selection for President by a third party. I have not seen any polls attempting to predict the effect of that.
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/09/ron-paul-to-appear-on-montana-ballot.html

Posted by: Jumper1 | October 30, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, thank god SOMEBODY's doing well in this economy: Exxon reports its profits are up 58% for this last quarter. You have NO idea how much I worry about how the giant oil companies are doing.

*&^%$# effing *&^%$#@*&^ fording *&^%$#@*&^%$ oedipal *&^%$#*&^% rectal *&^%$#*&^%$# rubber duck *&^%$#@(*&^%$#(*&^%

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | October 30, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The Florida ballot lists 13 choices for President/Vice -president:

McCain/Palin
Obama/Biden
LaRiva/Puryear
Baldwin/Castle
Amondson/Pletten
Barr/Root
Stevens/Link
Harris/Kennedy
McKinney/Clemente
Keyes/Rohrbough
Nader/Gonzalez
Moore/Alexander
Jay/Smith
+Write-in___________________,in order listed on ballot,

but no Ron and no Paul.

Posted by: -tao- | October 30, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Howdy all
well the sun came out here and it is flippin gorgeous!!!If anyone can get out to the mountains this weekend be prepared to say thing like wow,wow and wow!

Yoki,if you could send us that water,I would be glad to share that bottle of wine I have,sounds like you could use it today.

Finally,that last photo looks to have a bit too many sand trap/hazards for my game....yikes!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 30, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Howdy all
well the sun came out here and it is flippin gorgeous!!!If anyone can get out to the mountains this weekend be prepared to say thing like wow,wow and wow!

Yoki,if you could send us that water,I would be glad to share that bottle of wine I have,sounds like you could use it today.

Finally,that last photo looks to have a bit too many sand trap/hazards for my game....yikes!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | October 30, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

mudge - my sentiments sactly!

Posted by: mortii | October 30, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Deconstructing the Florida ballot party affiliation abbreviations and acronyms becomes problematic.

Baldwin/Castle, for example, are "CPF" and the closest political listing by google is "Communist Party of Finland." However, the googled names reveals they are the candidates supported by Ron Paul and are the Constitution Party (of Florida).

My assumption that the Amondson/Pletten "PRO" party listing meant "Progressive," was totally wrong. They represent the Prohibition party organized in 1869 and still on the wagon, so to speak. Amondson, by the way, is another Alaska candidate on the ballot.

Posted by: -tao- | October 30, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Stevens/Link OBJ party should come as no surprise:

http://www.objectivistparty.us/301.html

A party Ayn Rand associate Alan Greenspan may identify with in his support of capitalism.

Posted by: -tao- | October 30, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

mudge - my sentiments sactly!

Posted by: mortii | October 30, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

psssttt NEW KIT!

Posted by: mortii | October 30, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Brag's Comedy Hour

This week's episode: Philosopher-Hero
Feauturing Johan Sebastian Balz, Hero of the Kriegsmarine.

http://www.subsim.com/radioroom/showthread.php?t=143806

Posted by: Braguine | October 30, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Brag's Comedy Hour

This week's episode: Philosopher-Hero
Feauturing Johan Sebastian Balz, Hero of the Kriegsmarine.

http://www.subsim.com/radioroom/showthread.php?t=143806

Posted by: Braguine | October 30, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Brag's Comedy Hour

This week's episode: Philosopher-Hero
Feauturing Johan Sebastian Balz, Hero of the Kriegsmarine.

http://www.subsim.com/radioroom/showthread.php?t=143806

Posted by: Braguine | October 30, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company