World Market Center To Serve Global Home, Hotel Trade

April 2, 2003

LAS VEGAS - Development has begun on one of the largest market centers in the world. The World Market Center will feature several newly constructed buildings, including a convention facility, which will host a new trade fair and geared to the international contract and home furnishings industries.

Shawn Samson and Jack Kashani, the principals of World Market Center LLC, expect the massive project on 57 acres in downtown Las Vegas to ultimately contain some 7.5 million square feet in eight separate buildings when all phases are complete in 2010. The 10-story building slated for Phase I of the project will open in January 2005.

The Alliance Family of the U.K. is a principal financier of the first phase of construction.

''We saw a playing field that wasn't level for the U.S.A.,'' Samson said. ''In many ways, the U.S. market is stronger but all of the international exhibitions take place outside of the U.S.A., Las Vegas should have been the location for international exhibitions but it hasn't been until now.''

The first edition of the trade show will take place in temporary structures in the spring of 2005. The exhibition, which hasn't been named yet, will move into a one-million-square-foot convention facility when the fourth of six phases of construction are complete.

The fifth phase will yield the 1.5-million-square-foot World Trade Fair structure, a permanent showroom facility for international manufacturers and exhibitors. Two-thirds of the space will be reserved for international exhibitors of contract interiors including hospitality, cruise ships, healthcare and office furniture suppliers. The remaining space will be for use by the international home furnishings industry. World Market Center LLC has hired Jay Dash International, a consultant and contract product distributor, to bring contract textile exhibitors to permanent showrooms in the international facility as well as to temporary space in the convention center. Dash has produced contract programs for the trade show organizer Messe Frankfurt, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Decosit in Brussels.

''An exhibition center that just attracts the U.S. manufacturer is just the starting point in today's global economy,'' said Samson. ''You need global participation of buyers and sellers. Our facility offers the type of critical mass that has been missing in the U.S. This will be the ultimate showcase for the world market. This is a new conduit for conducting business in a city that people enjoy visiting. Buyers will spend more time here with larger purchase orders as the result.

''We expect that this new facility will replace San Francisco in the West as a home furnishings Mecca. With the addition of the international facilities, we will be the dominant venue for international exhibitors in the contract hospitality field.''

Samson believes Las Vegas is a powerful sales generator. ''Caesar's Forum Shops produces $1,200 of sales per square foot while a good mall typically generates $450 per square foot. There are 40 million tourists coming to Las Vegas annually. This produces significant buying power where any international manufacturer can showcase and test his products.''

The entire project includes the following parts: Market Towers; World Convention Center; World Trade Fair and World Pavilions, a one-million-square-foot retail and design facility targeting consumers. The market center follows announcements of other large hotel projects in Las Vegas including Steve Wynn's 'La Reve,' a $1.9 billion project, and the construction of towers at the Venetian and Mandalay Bay hotels.

Samson and Kashani are familiar with Las Vegas from their experience in real estate ventures. Samson, a CPA, has been involved with the operation of the 5.2-million-square-foot mall in West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the largest mall in the world, which houses 800 retailers. He was also the president of the U.S. subsidiary that was the original developer of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the largest retail and entertainment complex in the U.S. and home to 500 retailers.

''Show organizers have invested billions of dollars in other locations. The only thing that made sense to us for international exhibitions was Las Vegas. We have 125,000 hotel rooms in addition to convenient and inexpensive transportation.''

A monorail extension is scheduled for construction by the City of Las Vegas to bring visitors from hotels on the strip to the World Market Center with routes planned to the airport and all downtown hotels.

''The University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) did a study that showed if we built an exhibition facility here, 80 percent of the U.S. buyers would come; 50 percent said they already came to Las Vegas annually for business or pleasure. We could build a facility that wasn't limited with semi-annual trade shows. Our facility would offer more utility with permanent showrooms, especially beneficial to international buyers who want to come at different times of the year. By having a facility that is open to international buyers all year long, buyers can come to Las Vegas anytime they want.''

Samson said, as a service to exhibitors, World Market Center will arrange for its own professional staff to man permanent showrooms during non-show times. Ground breaking on Phase I, located at the junction of junction of I-15 and U.S. 95, took place March 21.

Totaling $200 million dollars, the initial construction includes three

buildings devoted to the home furnishings industry. ''Phase I is fully leased and has exceeded our expectations,'' Samson said. ''That's 1.3 million square feet for the home furnishings industry.'' Samson said 250 exhibitors have committed to taking space.

The City of Las Vegas has provided incentives including a $50 million tax rebate. This translates into free tenant improvements, a turnkey situation for the tenant including flooring, HVAC, storefront and walls.

''Just bring in your inventory and you're in business,'' said Samson. ''Common management makes a big difference. It ties all of the pieces together to show, sell and buy goods in the U.S.A. This, and the dynamics of Las Vegas will make World Market Center a must-participate market for buyers and exhibitors globally.''

The three buildings in the first phase of construction are dedicated to the home furnishings industry. Phase II and III, scheduled for ground breaking in mid 2004 is dedicated to lighting, area rugs, outdoor furniture and more decorative accessories and furniture including the floral industry.

Phase IV scheduled to begin in mid 2005 will be a one-million-square-foot convention center. ''This project is designed to compete with the best fairs of Europe and will be the dominant facility in the United States once completed,'' Samson said. F&FI

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