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Howard Stutz

Furniture Showcase Expanding

4 April 2005

One month before completion of the World Market Center's first phase, officials from the furniture showcase near downtown Las Vegas announced Friday the facility is growing and will now include 12 million square feet of exhibit space.

The cost of the project has also grown to $2 billion.

The expansion calls for the complex to be constructed in eight phases on a 57-acre parcel southeast of the Interstate 15-U.S. Highway 95 interchange. Completion of the entire project is expected in 2015.

The new master plan includes eight buildings with an average square footage of 1.5 million apiece. The buildings will be connected by sky bridges at every level.

Originally, the World Market Center had been envisioned to have 7.5 million square feet of permanent and temporary showrooms that would be dedicated to all segments of the home furnishings industry. The original cost was estimated to be $1 billion.

Completion of the World Market Center's first phase is anticipated in May and the building will be turned over to tenants in preparation for the furniture showcase's first event, the Las Vegas Market, scheduled for July 25-29. More than 30,000 people and 700 exhibitors are expected to attend a showcase of new products before an international audience of retailers and vendors.

"Our growth plans are a result of buyers' and exhibitors' avalanche of support for the Las Vegas Market," Jack Kashani, one of the World Market Center's two managing partners, said in a statement. "The industry strongly believes in our long-term vision of a world-class market, bringing together all facets of the home furnishings industry." Kashani said center officials had been approached by "multiple segments of the industry" seeking space in the showcase.

World Market Center officials say the project is aiming to have a much broader cross-section of categories on one campus than any other similar complex in the United States. The strategy is to expand sectors that are already committed to the first phase and add new segments not now in the project. Additions may offer opportunities with the furniture, home accessories, lighting, rugs, bedding, and the textile categories.

"Our research shows that retailers will continue to become more diversified in their product mix and want a multifaceted, yet efficient, buying experience," said Shawn Samson, the World Market Center's other managing partner. "As we have said from the early stages, we believe our efforts are expanding the pie for the home furnishings industry by creating a truly global marketplace that connects buyers and sellers from around the world."

Phase one, a $200 million, 1.3 million-square-foot nearly windowless 10-story building, is fully-leased and will be completed next month. Construction on phase two is expected to start in the year's second half.

Leasing has already begun for both the second and third phases, World Market Center spokeswoman Dana Pretner said. She added that international companies may become an important segment in the expansion.

"We can pursue international companies who do not currently show in the United States to join the mix of permanent showrooms in Las Vegas," Pretner said.

The World Market Center is expected to compete with the nation's top furniture markets, the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C.; Chicago's Merchandise Mart; and the San Francisco Mart.