Up-to-date news and coverage of industry trends and innovations from Asia with an in-depth special focus on real estate hot spots, as well as key interviews with important industry figures.
Special Feature: Viva Las Vegas
May 15, 2012
By Jules Kay
Property investments are often about hedging bets, and global economic shifts mean investors increasingly scour the international markets for opportunities that offer a win-win combination of financial security and lifestyle benefits.
City Center is an unprecedented modern urban development on 67 acres in the heart of Las Vegas, specifically designed by leading global developers and architects to give the world’s gaming capital a new focal point. A joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Infinity World Development Corp, a subsidiary of Dubai World, the iconic mixed use project features an impressive lineup of buildings that’s transforming the city skyline.
ARIA is the development’s 61-story, 4,004-room gaming resort, also served by two luxury non-gaming hotels — Las Vegas’ first Mandarin Oriental and the Vdara Hotel & Spa, while for residential investors, Veer Towers is home to approximately 670 contemporary condominium residences that range in size from approximately 500 to 3,300 sq ft. Options at Veer Towers include studios, deluxe studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and penthouses, while The Residences at Mandarin Oriental feature two distinct living collections: The Luxury Collection and The Penthouse Collection, the latter encompassing the top six floors of the building and delivered as an open canvas for residents to create their own personal sanctuary.
Between them, the Vdara, Mandarin Oriental and Veer Towers feature some 2,400 residences and along with the retail and entertainment projects bring together eight internationally acclaimed architectural firms including Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Helmut Jahn, RV Architecture LLC led by Rafael Viñoly, Foster + Partners, Studio Daniel Libeskind, David Rockwell and Rockwell Group, and Gensler. “Las Vegas attracts around 40 million visitors per year, and 20 per cent of them are from overseas,” said Tony Dennis, executive vice president of CityCenter’s residential division. “With places like Macau and Singapore emerging in the last 5 years, the city has to re-invent itself and work harder, but it is still an iconic destination that can hold its own.”
A ground floor opportunity
The residential components at CityCenter offer buyers the chance to invest ahead of the appreciation curve. The project was initially launched in 2007 and achieved US$1.9 billion in contracts in first 8 months. To survive the recession in 2008-09 and retain existing contract holders, the developers offered a 30 per cent discount on the original selling price. They then waited 18 months to let the global economy heal itself and the project is now re-entering the market with a further 10 per cent price point reduction, plus a 6 per cent cash back offer over 3 years. A major marketing drive around the world included recent property showcase events in Asia and the development is already attracting global investors looking to diversify their portfolios. “In the post-economic downturn, Vancouver, New York and Miami are all recovering and Las Vegas is the last market to bounce back,” said Dennis. “The feedback on the promotion is very positive, and with prices starting from just US$300,000 for Veer Towers and US$850,000 for the Mandarin Oriental Residences, the properties are a premium offering for Las Vegas and also represent very good value when compared to other global cities.”
Lobby Lounge, Mandarin Oriental
A landmark urban resort
Conceived by internationally renowned architect Helmut Jahn, who also designed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Veer Towers is an architectural and artistic landmark. Inclined at five-degree angles – a feature celebrated by the buildings’ name – its two 37-storey glass towers rise from Crystals, CityCenter’s 500,000 sqare foot retail and entertainment district, with upscale dining, high-end shopping, electric nightlife and entertainment all within walking distance. At the top of each tower, an amenities floor offers panoramic views of Las Vegas, with a roof-top, infinity-edge pool, hot tub, sun deck and bar for outdoor entertaining. A recreation room, private media room and a fitness centre with mens and womens steam rooms are adjacent to the pool deck. Residents of Veer Towers also enjoy a private boardroom and business centre, bike storage, mail room, private residential valet, concierge service and 24-hour security.
For Asian investors with a penchant for gaming, Las Vegas has long been high on the bucket list of must-visit destinations and at Veer Towers residents enjoy a similar privileged hospitality concept to the host services provided for high rollers at the city’s best casinos. ‘M-Life Curated Living”, as it is known, is a premier global concierge service with member benefits that include priority access to the amenities and services in MGM Resorts International portfolio of properties, especially those found at their “home” resort, CityCenter. Whether looking for preferred seating at the most in-demand shows or choice reservations at the most talked about restaurants, M life Curated Living makes life easy for residents. “Buying a condo is like buying an iPad,” said Dennis. ‘It’s useful in itself, but it’s the applications that really make it work for you. At CityCenter, M-Life Curated Living is the app. The more residents take advantage of the services that match their interests, the more the membership offers them.”
The attractions at CityCenter are diverse and accessible. The economic engine is undoubtedly the new 150,000 million square foot Aria Casino, one of the world’s smartest buildings designed with leading edge lighting and audio visual technology throughout. Unusually, the casino also benefits from plenty of natural light. “This is not like the usual casino experience where windowless rooms suspend time,” explained Dennis. “Daylight penetrates the casino floor creating a more organic, hospitable and human experience.”
Art and performance are also integral to the CityCenter experience. To enhance Las Vegas’ growing reputation as a cultural capital, a unique collection of private and publicly owned art worth upwards of US$40 million is on permanent display through the buildings with works by acclaimed artists including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, among others. Veer Towers also features two large-scale commissioned works by Richard Long. Meanwhile, on the performance side, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in Vegas in March and CityCenter features Viva ELVIS, a resident Cirque du Soleil production celebrating the musical legacy of Elvis Presley.
Veer Towers model unit
At the forefront of sustainability, CityCenter is one of the world’s largest private green developments. ARIA, Vdara, Crystals, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas and Veer Towers all have received LEED® Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. In order to achieve this the developers focused on 5 core areas: water conservation, energy conservation, sustainable materials selection, air quality and environmentally sound practices. “Environmental considerations are critical to success,” said Dennis. “The architectural design has a strong environmental element running through it and lots of thought went into creating sustainable buildings. The community at large understands it’s important to set an example for others to follow.”