The president of the Howard Hughes Corp. overseeing Summerlin told the development community he’s optimistic about 2024 and ongoing projects and how the west valley master plan continues to be a destination both inside and outside the region.
Frank Stephan, president of the Nevada region for Howard Hughes, the developer of Summerlin, was a featured panelist at a recent Southern Nevada NAIOP breakfast meeting looking at 2024 development. The meeting at The Orleans set a record with 300 in attendance and 100 watching live online.
“At the end of 2022, there was a lot of uncertainty, and we managed our own expectations and changed some of our projections going into 2023,” Stephan said. “As we entered the first and second quarter of 2023, we treaded lightly. We found there was a momentum that picked up in 2023 as we went on into the third and fourth quarter.”
Howard Hughes finished a Class A office building at 1700 Pavilion Center Drive at the end of 2023 and more than 90 percent of the 260,000-square-foot building is leased. It opened a new 300-unit multifamily building within walking distance of Downtown Summerlin and leasing is going well, he said. It will open its next Class A office building in South Summerlin in the first quarter.
There’s other reasons to be optimistic. Retail sales in Downtown Summerlin exceeded all-time highs per square foot and exceeded daily attendance records in 2023, Stephan said.
Summerlin home sales reached 1,090, an increase of 39 percent in 2023 over 2022.
“We were conservative and sold more than 1,000 new homes in Summerlin, and we were seeing as 2023 went on that homebuilders were very aggressive in land sales,” Stephan said.
There will continue to be a focus on three cores of Summerlin with announcements yet to come, Stephan said.
“I would say 2024 for us is a year of pre-development and this time next year I hope to share information on more than a half-dozen projects we were breaking ground on soon,” Stephan said.
Just east of Downtown Summerlin, which has 1.2 million square feet of retail, is 90 acres to be developed.
“We are excited about the next phase of Downtown Summerlin,” Stephan said.
Stephan said they’re still bullish on the office market with a flight to quality of Class A offices within walking distance from Downtown Summerlin. They are planning an office building next to 1700 Pavilion Center Drive, he added. As for the three cores, Downtown Summerlin is a regional destination with retail, multifamily and office. Summerlin South is more entertainment industry based with retail and dining and akin the Shops at Sportsmen’s Lounge in Los Angeles. Summerlin West is inspired by cultural arts and health and wellness, Stephan told the audience.
“I think given the size and magnitude of Summerlin, we’ve started to look at opportunities to work in different parts of Summerlin at the same time,” Stephan said. “While historically, we may have focused on one or two projects at the same time, we’re defining three different urban cores in Summerlin, and each developing with their own personality and characteristics.”
Stephan, who came to the Nevada position from Los Angeles, said it’s important to keep selling Summerlin to those from outside the region. The region has to fight against the notion that the Las Vegas Valley is only the Strip, and sell that Summerlin sits at the foothills of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with an abundance of outdoor activities, he said. He touted its parks, trails and schools.
“When we don’t win the relocation of the business or attract people, they may not be open to listening to everything that Southern Nevada has to offer,” Stephan said. “We need to work a little harder as a community and as an industry to not be as humble about what’s been done here. It’s a wonderful place.”
Las Vegas has a lot of momentum but still has a ways to go, Stephan said. It’s set to become the sports capital of the country and the benefits that are generated by that.
Summerlin already has the Las Vegas Ballpark, the potential temporary home of the A’s and the Golden Knights’ practice facility. Allegiant Stadium has attracted fans from all over the country to watch their teams, he noted.
“I think we will get the NBA and Major League Soccer and a bunch more, and that will have an impact on patrons of retail and people wanting to relocate offices and buy homes here,” Stephan said.