Downtown apartments project a labor of love for local group

Miranda Alam / Special to Weekly

From left: Elliott Schlottman, Jose Pichardo and Craig Palacios at the future site of Lave Om, an 18-unit apartment complex at 627 S. 10th St. in Downtown Las Vegas.

As projects in and around Downtown Las Vegas garner attention and headlines, Lave Om will fly mostly under the radar.

“That’s Downtown’s sweet spot, anyway,” said Craig Palacios, designer of the 18-unit apartment building going up on what was previously an empty lot at 627 S. 10th St. in Downtown Las Vegas.

It’s not a large project, but it’s one the developers said will help fill a void.

“We’re trying to provide housing to a place that needs housing,” said Palacios, who is also principal of Bunnyfish Studio architectural firm. “We’re quickly growing into one of these situations that cities get into where you have the coffee shops and bars, but the people who work at those places don’t have anywhere to live.”

Lave Om—which means “to change” in Danish—will be a three-story building featuring 10 studio apartment spaces, in addition to four one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units.

Located just north of Charleston Boulevard, the building will have covered parking for residents and a rooftop area for socializing. It’s expected to be completed in December and will welcome its first residents in early 2020.

Design Builders is the general contractor for Lave Om, and more than 30 people had expressed interest in a unit as of early July, according to Jose Pichardo of Double D Group, the small local development company behind the project.

“What’s unique about this area is that it’s evolved into office spaces over the years,” Pichardo said. “Forty or 50 years ago, there were all single-family homes in the area, and it used to be a neighborhood. But then homeowners started turning their homes into law offices. At night, it’s a pretty empty area.”

Palacios is a Las Vegas native who graduated from UNLV. Pichardo, who lives in Henderson, has been in the Las Vegas Valley for about two decades.

The pair want to help Downtown evolve.

“We built this city with new buildings, and I think we need to see more of that,” Pichardo said. “Remodeling is great, but we need more. We like to provide a more contemporary, updated look. I started planning for this project six or seven years ago because I saw the potential of the area.”

Lave Om will also have a first-floor area targeted for commercial space, and possibly a coffee shop or hair salon, Pichardo said.

Bunnyfish Studio, which also designed the multivenue Inspire Theater complex at Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street, is no stranger to Downtown development. Palacios started the firm with fellow UNLV grad Tina Wichmann in 2011, and he wants to see the area continue to progress while keeping its identity.

“In five or 10 years, I hope Downtown is a little more built up than it is now, but I also hope we don’t lose the old houses,” Palacios said. “If you looked at Rainey Street in Austin [Texas] about five years ago, it was a mixture of small residential and three- and four-story office buildings and hotels. That works well, and I think it works well here. I think the next 10 years for Downtown Las Vegas will be very exciting.”

As massive projects such as the new Raiders stadium and the Resorts World property go up, a building like Lave Om isn’t the most attention-grabbing piece of new construction in town.

That’s just fine for Downtown, Palacios said.

“Vegas has always been really good at being local and tourist,” Palacios said. “When I was growing up, I never felt any friction there. My dad made a good living working at the Desert Inn for tourists, and we had a lot of local friends and tourist friends. I think the two work really well together. I live and work Downtown, and whether it’s a new sports team or a new megaresort, that makes my lifestyle and my business better.”


This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.