Southwest Las Vegas, NV Real Estate
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About the Las Vegas Valley
The Las Vegas Valley is a major metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The state’s largest urban agglomeration, it is the heart of the Las Vegas–Paradise-Henderson, NV MSA. The Valley is largely defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a 600 sq mi (1,600 km2) basin area surrounded by mountains to the north, south, east and west of the metropolitan area. The Valley is home to the three largest incorporated cities in Nevada: Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas. Five unincorporated towns governed by the Clark County government are part of the Las Vegas Township and constitute the largest community in the state of Nevada.
The names Las Vegas and Vegas are interchangeably used to indicate the Valley, the Strip, and the city, and as a brand by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to denominate the region. The Valley is affectionately known as the “ninth island” by Hawaii natives and Las Vegans alike, in part due to the large number of people originally from Hawaii who live in and regularly travel to Las Vegas.
The first reported non-Native American visitor to the Las Vegas Valley was the Mexican scout Rafael Rivera in 1829. Las Vegas was named by Mexicans in the Antonio Armijo party, including Rivera, who used the water in the area while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. In the 19th century, areas of the valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas, or meadows, hence the name Las Vegas (vegas being Spanish for “meadows”).
The area was previously settled by Mormon farmers in 1854 and later became the site of a United States Army fort in 1864, beginning a long relationship between southern Nevada and the U.S. military. Since the 1930s, Las Vegas has generally been identified as a gaming center as well as a resort destination, primarily targeting adults.
Nellis Air Force Base is located in the northeast corner of the valley. The ranges that the Nellis pilots use and various other land areas used by various federal agencies, limit growth of the valley in terms of geographic area.
Businessman Howard Hughes arrived in the late 1960s and purchased many casino hotels, as well as television and radio stations in the area. Legitimate corporations began to purchase casino hotels as well, and the mob was run out by the federal government over the next several years. The constant stream of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos was augmented by a new source of federal money from the establishment of what is now Nellis Air Force Base. The influx of military personnel and casino job-hunters helped start a land building boom which is now leveling off.
The Las Vegas area remains one of the world’s top entertainment destinations.
The valley is contained in the Las Vegas Valley landform. This includes the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Henderson, and the unincorporated towns of Summerlin South, Paradise, Spring Valley, Sunrise Manor, Enterprise, Winchester, and Whitney. The valley is technically located within the larger metropolitan area, as the metropolitan area covers all of Clark County including parts that do not fall within the valley.
The government of Clark County has an “Urban Planning Area” of Las Vegas. This definition is a roughly rectangular area, about 20 mi (32 km) from east to west and 30 miles (48 km) from north to south. Notable exclusions from the “Urban Planning Area” include Red Rock, Blue Diamond, and Mount Charleston.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is the largest police department in the valley and the state and exercises jurisdiction in the entire county. There are approximately 3,000 police officers that cover the city of Las Vegas; unincorporated areas; the town of Laughlin, about 90 mi (140 km) from Downtown Las Vegas; and desert, park, and mountain areas within Clark County. The department does not exercise primary jurisdiction in areas with separate police forces such as North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, Nellis Air Force Base and the Paiute reservation.
The driving force in Las Vegas is the tourism industry and the area has about 150,000 hotel rooms, more than any other city in the world. In the past, casinos and celebrity shows were the two major attractions for the area. Now shopping, conventions, fine dining, and outdoor beauty are also major forces in attracting tourist dollars.
Las Vegas serves as world headquarters for the world’s two largest Fortune 500 gaming companies, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. Several companies involved in the manufacture of electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines, are located in the Las Vegas area. In the first decade of the 21st century, shopping and dining have become attractions of their own. Tourism marketing and promotion are handled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a county-wide agency. Its annual Visitors Survey provides detailed information on visitor numbers, spending patterns, and resulting revenues.
While Las Vegas has historically attracted high-stake gamblers from around the world, it is now facing tougher competition from the UK, Hong Kong and Macau (China), Eastern Europe and developing areas in the Middle East.
Las Vegas has recently enjoyed a boom in population and tourism. The urban area has grown outward so quickly that it borders Bureau of Land Management holdings along its edges. This has led to an increase in land values such that medium- and high-density development is occurring closer to the core. The Chinatown of Las Vegas was constructed in the early 1990s on Spring Mountain Road. Chinatown initially consisted of only one large shopping center complex, but the area was expanded with shopping centers that contain various Asian businesses. Over the past few years, retirees have been moving to the metro area, driving businesses that support them from housing to health care.
While the cost of housing spiked up over 40% in 2004, the lack of business and income taxes still makes Nevada an attractive place for many companies to relocate to or expand existing operations. Being a true twenty-four-hour city, call centers have always seemed to find Las Vegas a good place to hire workers who are accustomed to working at all hours.
The construction industry accounts for a share of the economy in Las Vegas. Hotel casinos planned for the Strip can take years to build and employ thousands of workers. Developers discovered that there was demand for high-end condominiums. By 2005, more than 100 condominium buildings were in various stages of development, however, in 2008, the construction industry went into a downturn due to the credit crunch, though the industry has since seen a rebound.
In 2000 more than 21,000 new homes and 26,000 resale homes were purchased. In early 2005 there were 20 residential development projects of more than 300 acres (120 ha) each underway. During that same period, Las Vegas was regarded as the fastest-growing community in the United States.
Other promising residential and office developments have begun construction around Downtown Las Vegas. New condominium and high-rise hotel projects have changed the Las Vegas skyline dramatically in recent years. Many large high-rise projects are planned for Downtown Las Vegas, as well as the Las Vegas Strip.
Traditionally, housing consisted primarily of single-family detached homes. Slab-on-grade foundations are the common base for residential buildings in the valley. Apartments generally were two story buildings. Until the 1990s, there were exceptions, but they were few and far between. In the 1990s, Turnberry Associates constructed the first high rise condominium towers. Prior to this, there were only a handful of mid-rise multi-family buildings. By the mid-2000s, there was a major move into high rise condominiums towers, which affected the region’s skyline around the Strip.
The Las Vegas Valley is home to various suburban master planned communities that include extensive recreational amenities such as lakes, golf courses, parks, bike paths and jogging trails. Planned communities in the valley include Aliante, Anthem, Centennial Hills, Green Valley, Inspirada, The Lakes, Mountain’s Edge, Peccole Ranch, Silverado Ranch, Seven Hills, Southern Highlands, and Summerlin.
The major attractions in the Las Vegas Valley are the hotel/casinos. These hotels generally consist of large gambling areas, theaters for live performances, shopping, bars/clubs, and several restaurants and cafes. There are clusters of large hotel/casinos located in both downtown Las Vegas and on the Las Vegas Strip. The largest hotels are mainly located on the Strip, which is a four-mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard. These hotels provide thousands of rooms of various sizes. Fifteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 62,000 rooms. There are many hotel/casinos in the city’s downtown area as well, which was the original focal point of the Valley’s gaming industry. Several hotel/casinos ranging from large to small are also located around the city and metro area. Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip.
The valley’s casinos can be grouped into several locations. The largest is the Las Vegas Strip, followed by Downtown Las Vegas, and then the smaller Boulder Strip. There are also several one-off single standing hotel/casinos dotted around the valley and the metro area.
Las Vegas has expanded its attractiveness to visitors by offering both affordable and high-end merchandise in many shops and shopping malls. Many hotels on the Las Vegas Strip also have adjacent shopping malls, giving the Las Vegas area the highest concentration of shopping malls in any four mile stretch of road. In addition to the malls on the Strip, there are several outlying malls in the City of Las Vegas, Henderson, and the surrounding area. The monorail, lying somewhat east of the Strip, facilitates north–south travel, including stations at several casinos and the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The “First Friday” celebration, held on the first Friday of each month, exhibits the works of local artists and musicians in an area just south of downtown. The city is home to an extensive Downtown Arts District which hosts numerous galleries, film festivals, and events.
The Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park, also known as the Las Vegas Zoo, exhibits over 150 species of animals and plants. The Zoo closed its doors in September, 2013.
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is the only aquarium that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the state of Nevada. It features over 2,000 animals and 1,200 species in 1.6 million gallons of seawater.
The $485 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts is located downtown in Symphony Park. The center is appropriate for Broadway shows and other major touring attractions as well as orchestral, opera, choir, jazz, and dance performances.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is a facility presenting high-quality art exhibitions from major national and international museums. Past exhibits have included the works of Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and Peter Carl Fabergé. A self-guided audio tour is also offered.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum features robot dinosaurs, live fish, and more than 26 species of preserved animals. There are several “hands-on” areas where animals can be petted.
The Atomic Testing Museum, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, houses artifacts from the Nevada Test Site and records the dramatic history of the atomic age through a series of interactive modules, timelines, films, and actual equipment and gadgets from the site.
The valley is home to numerous other art galleries, orchestras, ballets, theaters, sculptures, and museums as well.
McCarran International Airport (LAS) provides commercial flights into the Las Vegas Valley. The airport serves domestic, international, and cargo flights, as well as some private aircraft. General aviation traffic, however, will typically use the much smaller North Las Vegas Airport, or other airfields in the county. Public transportation is provided by RTC Transit. Numerous bus routes cover Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, and other suburban areas.
Two major freeways—Interstate 15 and Interstate 515/U.S. Route 95—cross in downtown Las Vegas. I-15 connects Las Vegas to the Southern California coastal urban centers of Los Angeles and San Diego, and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake City, Utah. I-515 goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which US 93 continues south of Hoover Dam over the new Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge towards Phoenix, Arizona and the Arizona Sun Corridor. US 95 connects the city to northwestern Nevada, including Carson City and Reno. US 93 splits from I-15 northeast of Las Vegas and goes north through the eastern part of the state, serving Ely and Wells, and US 95 heads south from US 93 near Henderson through far eastern California. A three-quarters beltway has been built, consisting of Interstate 215 on the south and Clark County 215 on the west and north. Other radial routes include Blue Diamond Road (SR 160) to Pahrump and Lake Mead Boulevard (SR 147) to Lake Mead.
With the notable exceptions of Las Vegas Boulevard, Boulder Highway (SR 582), and Rancho Drive (SR 599), the majority of surface streets outside downtown Las Vegas are laid out along Public Land Survey System section lines. Many are maintained by the Nevada Department of Transportation as state highways.
Las Vegas has many natural outdoor recreational options.
There are several multi-use trail systems within the valley operated by multiple organizations. The River Mountains Loop Trail is a 35-mile-long (56 km) trail that connects the west side of the valley with Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Summerlin offers more than 150 miles of award-winning trails within the 22,500-acre (9,100 ha) community. There are also the 3-mile (4.8 km) Angel Park Trail, Bonanza Trail, and the county’s Flamingo Arroyo Trail, I-215 West Beltway Trail (5 miles (8.0 km)), I-215 East Beltway Trail (4 miles (6.4 km)), Tropicana/Flamingo Washes Trail and the Western Trails Park Area Equestrian Trails (4 miles).
Sunset Park at dusk
The Las Vegas Valley also hosts world class mountain biking including Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park located in Boulder City which boasts itself as one of the International Mountain Biking Association’s “epic rides”.