US Metropolis Rises Out Of Desert Wasteland

The Henderson and North Las Vegas suburbs were the No. 2 and No. 3 most rapidly expanding cities nationwide in 2004.

Planners and developers say this growth is contributing to the metamorphosis of Las Vegas from a sleepy Mob town to a true U.S. metropolis. Upwards of 7,000 newcomers arrive in the area each month, many of them baby boomers who are purchasing vacation homes or retirees drawn by the warm climate, relatively low cost of living, and golf courses. Home prices are escalating--Las Vegas had the highest rate of appreciation in the country during last year's fourth quarter, jumping 48 percent from a year earlier to $281,000--not only from the increasing demand but also from geographical characteristics that limit the availability of land.

Penned in by mountains, developers have little choice but to build up rather than out. Subsequently, there are dozens of proposals in the pipeline for condominium towers in Las Vegas. The "Manhattanization" of Sin City is not limited to the famed Strip, however, but also extends to the previously neglected downtown district--where $10 billion of commercial and residential projects are expected to alter its skyline. With all the expansion taking place, observers are concerned, first, that a housing bubble is forming around property prices and eventually will pop; and, second, that the rising cost of living in Las Vegas will counter growth by making the city unaffordable to its lower-paid service industry workers.

Thanks to ULI Smart Growth News

Full Story: US metropolis rises out of desert wasteland

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