Sales of Henderson mountainside mansion lots underway at Ascaya

Ascaya has a fine view of the Strip on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, from atop the mountain-mansion development.

If you want to live on a Henderson mountainside, hundreds of feet above the valley floor, get ready to pay big and build big.

Ascaya, the long-delayed mountain-mansion project by Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng, is back in business, and the sales team is accepting refundable $50,000 deposits from people who want to reserve the chance to buy an undeveloped lot they've chosen.

Ascaya Development Opens Sales Office

Florence Shapiro and Ivan Sher with the Shapiro & Sher Group are the brokers for Ascaya and with their sales staff have unveiled the sales center at the development in Henderson on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Launch slideshow »

The pads will be sold in phases, and for now, they’re listed at about $1 million each, listing broker Ivan Sher said.

His group aims to sell out Ascaya's 313 lots in five to seven years and to have the project fully developed in a decade or so.

Six lots have been reserved.

“We’ve had people working with movie stars to create something spectacular up here,” Sher said.

The Las Vegas Sun reported Friday that developers were relaunching sales efforts at Ascaya, which is decades in the making but doesn’t have a single house. Developers on Wednesday opened the project site, located south of Horizon Ridge Parkway off Roma Hills Drive, to the media.

Salespeople said the site, more than a square mile in size and almost 1,000 feet above the valley floor in the McCullough Range, is ripe for construction. Street lights are not installed, but work crews have graded the lots, built roads and installed underground utilities.

To make sure Ascaya avoids a cookie-cutter look, the developers are imposing design restrictions to ensure each house has a unique, contemporary desert-themed look. They also are not selling lots to builders who would construct homes without buyers lined up, the sales team said.

“They want something that fits with the area, with the desert,” listing broker Florence Shapiro said.

Buyers will have a year to submit their proposed house design to the developers’ architectural review board, and they’ll have 30 months from the time they buy the lot to start construction. That’s in addition to any city approvals and permits they would need.

If buyers miss Ascaya's construction-start deadline, they'd face daily fines, or be able to buy a two-year extension for $50,000.

Under Ascaya’s development guidelines, each home must be at least 4,500 square feet, sales manager Darin Marques said. There is no maximum.

Cheng, the 67-year-old chairman of NWS Holdings Ltd., oversees an empire of tolls roads, power plants, water-treatment plants and container terminals in Asia. Through the company W.L. of Nevada, his family began buying land in the Henderson mountains by 1990. Henderson city officials granted the group a zoning change in 1995, allowing two units per acre on the roughly 630-acre development, and other zoning changes in 2004.

At that time, the developers planned to build 472 single-family lots at the project, then called Crystal Ridge.

Cheng’s group spent at least $200 million building the site. They reportedly drilled, blasted and moved 15 million cubic yards of solid rock, cutting at least 140 feet deep.

“At one point, this was the largest excavation project in the United States,” Marques said.

The developers planned to have the first homes built in 2009, but they reportedly suspended sales efforts that year.

Since then, the project has sat untouched, with dozens of cake-layered pads carved into the mountain. Some locals assumed the land had been seized through foreclosure.

The sales team expects to start selling the lots to homebuyers in coming months, Sher said.

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