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March 25, 2005
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ARCHIVE: East Side Development

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Tonight a new magazine financed by Condo developers in Las Vegas will host a High-Rise Conference with the Mayor at the Bellagio. They will cover some 80-90 proposed high-rise, high-end projects across the valley for 700 attendees. What's been left out of the mix is East Las Vegas. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

PLASKON: At Eastern and Bonanza Mexican flags adorn light posts and music shops play Latino tunes outside.

CASTILLO-COUCH: I am going to give you a picture, It's going to be visual.

PLASKON: Maria Castillo Couch grew up in this neighborhood, the child of Cuban Immigrants.

CASTILLO-COUCH: When you look at the old neighborhoods here at Eastern and Bonanza, you have Marianas market, it started as a small little market and now he has a restaurant on the corner, he has opened up and invested on buildings that nobody really wants.

PLASKON: Castillo Couch is also Program Administrator for Las Vegas's Neighborhood Services. She says the reluctance to sell property and businesses in this area is indicative of how entrenched Latino families are. Goerge Gekakis knows. He's been buying property in East Las Vegas for years and using state and local subsidies to develop senior housing. But recently started to look elsewhere.

GEKAKIS: Old Land Owners still wanna keep it with the vision that everything out here is going to be a casino. You have to compete with that mind set these days.

PLASKON: The City of Las Vegas wants to bring in more investors to compete with that mind set.

GOODMAN: What has happened there is that land has become almost prohibitive.

PLASKON: Mayor Oscar Goodman told more than 100 developers real estate agents and city employees this week at a developers' fair that East Lass Vegas remains the cheapest area in the valley. Later attendees boarded a bus and toured 27 projects. Councilman for the area Lawrence Weekly knows he has been perceived as a barrier to development in the east by not agreeing with projects brought to him by the City's Development Services Department. But at the meeting he vowed to change that.

WEEKLY: We have to be more proactive, we have to be user friendly and help you meet your bottom line. It is about them looking to make money. What I want is just good quality projects that are compatible with the neighborhood.

PLASKON: It's this kind of attitude that has brought so many high rise developers to other parts of the city says Ben Peterson editor of Condo's and Townhomes Magazine - a new magazine in Las Vegas funded by developers.

PETERSON: Oh, ya, the city has been so helpful to anyone who wants to build downtown. I was talking to Sandhurst and they said it might be years before you can get a project approved on the east coast. But here it is 6 months.

PLASKON: The friendly development environment and cheap land prices he says are the key to eventual investment. He expects east Las Vegas to host mid-rise development eventually. But like the city's developers' fair in east Las Vegas this week, the high-rise development craze in Las Vegas is full of sales pitches that will fizzle.

PETERSON: You see the billboard you see the people and the price point sometimes you don't even see the building, and then from there they decide if they are going to move forward.

PLASKON: The city is even turning to the area's roots for investors. The city invited the Mexican Consul to the developers fair hoping he could draw investors from Mexico. The Consul however said he attended the meeting to express support for improving the quality of life for Mexicans.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

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