Vegas is hot again.
The city is riding a wave of high profile sports successes that seem to keep getting better.
There was the announcement that the NFL Oakland Raiders will soon be moving to Vegas, bringing the biggest of big time professional sports.
There was the arrival of the expansion NHL team the Golden Knights. And now the Knights have really turned up the excitement, making an improbable run to the league’s Western Conference finals in the team’s first season, bringing the city’s residents together in a gush of civic pride tinged with healing. The team’s success has been a part of the recovery from the shock and sadness that followed last year’s mass shooting at a country music festival.
But there’s more going on – the city seems right now to be like a gambler on a roll.
After a couple of decades during which the city seemed to be fading into a cliche of past glories, it’s in the midst of a big rebuilding boom that may match the jolt of civic pride that has come from its arrival on the big-time sports scene.
More than $5 billion worth of new construction projects are currently underway, according to a report by Bloomberg News. That sports resurgence is part of what’s driving the new round of growth – there’s the $375 million ice hockey venue T-Mobile Arena, and a $2 million stadium being built for the Raiders.
But wait – there’s more.
Officials recently showed off plans for an $860 million expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Several major hotel renos are underway, including overhauls at Caesars and The Palms, both of which will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The Monte Carlo, which is becoming the Park MGM, has just undergone a half billion dollar revamp, the Bloomberg story reported.
The return of boom times to Las Vegas has house prices going up again. Median home prices at the start of this year were up more than 10 percent from the start of 2017 – with all the new construction bringing a new influx of workers.
The recession was particularly hard on Vegas, in part because it was a bust immediately following the city’s last building boom, in the 2000s. The area saw a surge in homebuilding in the early 2000s that fed more population growth, and it came crashing down in 2008 with the coming of the housing crash and the recession.
The residential building surge is happening again. In addition to the new sports facilities, hotel makeovers and convention center renovation, builders are busy putting up new apartment complexes, housing subdivisions, and strip malls, though local experts say the building isn’t at the pace of the last boom, at least not yet. The lessons of the 2008 recession have investors more cautious about speculative building now.
“We don’t think we’re going to double the national average” again, John Restrepo, founder of Las Vegas-based RCG Economics, told the Las Vegas Review Journal. Today, there is “a lot more care in how projects are built and how they’re approved.”