The Westin Lake Las Vegas hotel, which as a prior brand crashed financially with the lavish community it’s built in, has a new landlord.
The 493-room Henderson resort, a rest stop for President Barack Obama while on the campaign trail, was purchased Friday out of foreclosure for $25 million. State and county records indicate the buyer was Pacifica Cos., a San Diego-based investment firm, but do not say whether the sale included anything beyond the real estate.
The sales price was 84 percent below what previous owners paid almost a decade ago, during the bubble years.
It’s not immediately clear what, if any, effect the sale will have on the hotel’s daily operations or branding. Pacifica’s president and managing partner, Deepak Israni, did not respond Monday to requests for comment, and efforts to reach Westin management were also not successful.
Still, the transaction shows how far property values have plunged in Lake Las Vegas since the boom years, and that investors still are betting on the faux-Mediterranean project built around a man-made lake in the desert, some 20 miles east of the Strip.
The 21.6-acre hotel, one of three resorts at Lake Las Vegas, opened in 1999 as a Hyatt Regency and became a Loews resort in 2006. New York-based Loews Hotels, backed by a $117 million mortgage loan, bought the property that year with a partner for $155 million, according to Clark County records and news reports.
But after the bubble burst and Las Vegas’ once-roaring economy imploded, the hotel’s financial health went south, along with the 3,600-acre Lake Las Vegas community.
A court-appointed receiver took charge of the Loews hotel in 2009 after its owners reportedly defaulted on their mortgage, and lenders seized the property through foreclosure in spring 2012, about five weeks after it became a Westin-branded resort.
Maryland-based CWCapital Asset Management, representing the lenders, sold the property last week to Pacifica, county records show.
Lake Las Vegas, with a 320-acre lake, was designed as an elegant Mediterranean village, featuring luxury homes, golf courses, a retail district and a casino. It ended up one of the biggest flops in one of the hardest-hit markets in America.
The project off Lake Mead Parkway east of Boulder Highway was seized through foreclosure and then, after changing hands, slid into bankruptcy. Home values plunged, golf courses closed and turned brown, and the casino shut its doors because an adjacent hotel closed. Tourism and retail sales dried up, and even a man-made waterfall was turned off.
Today, Southern Nevada’s real estate market still is bogged down by foreclosures and underwater borrowers. But it’s more stable than it was during the recession, and in the last few years, investors have bought property in once-derailed Lake Las Vegas.
New York hedge-fund tycoon John Paulson, for instance, acquired around 1,000 acres with plans to sell land to homebuilders, and Southern California’s R.Y. Properties bought 127 acres a year ago with plans for residential development.
There have been setbacks, though. Casino MonteLago, which reopened in 2011 after being closed for more than a year, locked its doors again in fall 2013. Management cited “lease issues with the property owners.” The casino remains shuttered.
Despite the ups and downs, at least one well-known person enjoys Lake Las Vegas: Obama.
According to reports, he has visited at least four times and stayed at the Westin at least twice.