Las Vegas developers talk about new projects

Twenty years after MacDonald Highlands sold its first lots in the hillside community in Henderson, developer Rich MacDonald announced Wednesday he’s preparing the last 500 acres to sell 200 lots. It’s a further sign of the strength of the luxury market that’s seen strong new home sales.

MacDonald made the announcement at DragonRidge Country Club, which hosted a kickoff of a luxury educational series of the Nevada Association of Real Estate Brokers. Nearly 300 people attended.

“The tax cuts have helped and economy is strong enough to carry us through to sell those lots,” MacDonald said in an interview afterward. “I talk with a lot of business guys, and they’re very bullish on the economy. I think the lots will sell in a couple of years the way the market is going. Given the market conditions, it’s a good move.”

MacDonald Highlands, which has sold about 750 lots in 20 years, sold its first two lots in December 1998. So far this year, MacDonald said they’ve closed on 38 lots and 10 are in escrow. They’re on pace to sell more than 50 lots, more than double from a year ago when they sold about 25, he said.

During the recession, MacDonald said he sold about three lots a year but the luxury sector gradually started picking up afterward to where he would sell 10 to 15 lots a year earlier this decade.

MacDonald Highlands has been part of the trend of Californians buying in Las Vegas, and he estimates about 75 percent of the lots sold this year are to that group. Many of those buyers have multiple homes, he said.

“They’re California tax refugees,” MacDonald said to the real estate agents in the room. “(California Gov.) Jerry Brown is doing everything he can to make Nevada green, and he deserves to be on our Christmas list.”

MacDonald said he’s saved the highest elevation points and lots with some of the valley’s best views of the Strip and surrounding mountains for the final 200 lots that will be released in four phases.

The lots will range in elevation from 2,800 feet to 2,900 feet on the low end to 3,300 on the high end, what will be the highest point of the community and best views of any similar development in the valley and at a lower price point, he said. The clubhouse is at 2,400 feet, he said.

There will be lots in the $1 million to $1.5 million range, and the highest may sell for about $3 million, MacDonald said. There will be one-third-acre, a half-acre lots and larger.

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