With restaurants, breweries and even an ice rink lining Water Street, downtown Henderson has started to move past its, well, sleepy past.
Now, one of the biggest homebuilders in the nation is looking to get in on the action.
Lennar Corp. filed plans for a 25-unit townhouse project on a 1.6-acre plot along Water Street between Basic Road and Ocean Avenue, Henderson city records show.
Home construction sites can be found all over Southern Nevada. But this is the first time in recent memory that a national homebuilder has ventured to downtown Henderson, signaling that at least one heavyweight housing developer is willing to gamble, albeit with a relatively small project, that people want to live in the burgeoning commercial corridor.
Downtown has gained momentum, and the townhouses would be built by a big-name company, Home Builders Research President Andrew Smith pointed out.
“It’s definitely a unique thing,” said Smith, who noted the World War II-era homes in the area are some of the oldest in the valley.
TSK Architects owner Windom Kimsey, whose firm is on Water Street, said he is “very enthusiastic” about Lennar’s project, which would be built across from a small mixed-use development of his own.
His project, Southend Lofts, will feature three apartments and some commercial space.
Kimsey said downtown needs more housing, which he believes could spark other businesses to set up shop in the area. He also noted that most developers downtown are smaller, independent firms and that he has seen plenty of project plans come and go over the years.
“They’ll get it done,” he said of Lennar.
Lennar’s project site is currently owned by the city. After the Review-Journal asked to speak with a city official about the project, Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards replied that an interview “would be premature” at this time.
Richards confirmed that the land sale is in negotiations.
She noted the developer is seeking a concept plan review, which she described as a “courtesy staff review to provide applicants with feedback at a very early stage in their planning process.”
Miami-based Lennar closed more than 53,000 home sales last year, according to Builder magazine.
Lennar representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
Henderson officials have long sought to revitalize the city’s downtown, where over the years foot traffic has been light and ground-up real estate projects have, for the most part, been relatively small.
But new restaurants have opened downtown, other ventures have taken shape and more people have been heading to Water Street.
Lifeguard Arena, the practice rink for the Silver Knights minor-league hockey team, opened last fall and a seven-story mixed-use project is being built across the street.
Your guess is as good as mine whether other big builders follow Lennar to Water Street. Still, for a corridor that long needed some commerce, landing one is big enough.
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