Its front windows wish you "Feliz Navidad" in paint that won't wash off. The landscaping consists of four shriveling cactuses and a patio piled with empty cat food boxes. Inside, it's 700 square feet of confirmed bachelor's clutter.
And it can all be yours for $1.2 million -- cash.
There's perhaps no better evidence of the condo fever raging through Las Vegas's real estate market than the asking price on Manuel Corchuelo's home. Once considered deadlocked in the wasteland where the Las Vegas Strip fizzled into a decaying downtown, the World War II-era home is now nestled in the shadows of billions of dollars of new and proposed high-rise condominium projects. Corchuelo is sitting on much-coveted land.
From his front lawn, Corchuelo likes to smile up at the cranes and listen to the clang of construction.
"It's a good sound," he said.
The Colombian immigrant bought the house in 1978 for $30,000. He worked more than 20 years as a catering waiter for high rollers and conventioneers. He never married, saved some money -- and lost $15,000 of it on the stock market. Ten years ago, he started reading about investors' plans to build condominiums outside his door. He clipped the newspaper article and saved it in a three-ring binder.
A few years later, he put his house on the market.
At last count, there were 93 luxury condominium projects, totaling 175 towers, proposed, planned or under construction in the Las Vegas valley in the second quarter of this year, according to a report released in September by Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas consulting firm. Though Brian Gordon, an analyst for the group, estimates that little more than one in three of the 93 will ever open its doors, 15 projects representing 10,000 units are expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Developers tout the boom as the Manhattanization of Las Vegas, the move to "verticality" instead of sprawl. They promise an urban lifestyle, skyline views and celebrity neighbors. They court the young, rich and out of town.
About 85 percent of condo buyers are non-Nevada residents or investors, Gordon said.
Most of the projects are huddled on or around the Strip. "It's sort of like beachfront property. They're not making any more of it. Everybody that's within a stone's throw thinks their property is worth $20 million an acre," he said.
The hype is fueling increases throughout the city. The cost of a vacant acre in the Las Vegas area has hit $601,600 -- an 88 percent increase over last year.
Corchuelo's home is one block off Las Vegas Boulevard and across the street from the future home of the Allure, a 41-story luxury complex under construction.
Five years ago, his initial asking price of $350,000 drew little interest. His agent dropped the listing. Corchuelo continued to collect articles about the market, filling three binders full of stories and notes handwritten in Spanish. He studied the moves of the city's tycoons.
"Even Trump makes mistakes," he said, citing a sale he says cost real estate mogul Donald Trump millions. "You have to know the area. Steve Wynn, he knew what he was doing. He had experience -- 20 years building hotels. He knows everything moves in cycles."
Corchuelo found an agent who, like him, is convinced they are riding an upturn that has not peaked. The pair has upped the asking price several times and are looking for a buyer who does not need financing.
"It's all going to keep going," said Paul Miotke, Corchuelo's agent. "The one thing we know is it's not going down in value."
Few would have said that about Corchuelo's block just a few years ago. In the 1950s, the neighborhood was home to card dealers and strippers who used to sunbathe in the buff to avoid tan lines and earned the place its nickname, Naked City. By the 1980s, it had become a pocket of prostitution and crime.
Now, streets around Corchuelo's home are lined with a mix of small, well-kept homes, residential hotels and public housing. Visitors are as likely to see speculators and real estate agents as pimps.
In 2000, the city removed building height and parking restrictions in an attempt to lure development to the area. It took a few years, but builders eventually began to eye Naked City for what planners call "higher intensity housing units."
"We had to expect there would be developers seeking to consolidate smaller properties," said Margo Wheeler, city director of planning and development.
That's where Georgia James comes in. She's a Prudential agent who cruises the neighborhood in her bronze Cadillac DeVille daily. She calls herself the mayor of Naked City and is one of several people coveting Corchuelo's house. James says she has bought and sold more than 200 properties in Naked City, some of them five times. She just assembled a five-acre site for a group of Miami investors. The plot includes 150 feet of Strip-front property and backs up to Corchuelo's parcel. It's listed at $10 million an acre.
James says she does not need Corchuelo's plot but would like it -- though she calls his price unrealistic.
"He's basing it on the highest price paid for the top property on the Strip. If Wynn paid $250,000 a square foot, Manuel wants $250,000 a square foot," she said. The house next door sold about six months ago for $520,000.
Corchuelo thinks the owner should have held out for more.
James says she hates to see the 64-year-old man waste time.
"He's so old and he's sick. He's going to end up dying, and he has no children or anything else," she said. "So, what is he trying to do? They can build around him."
It's been done before, she said, adding that the tide of development is likely to consume all of Naked City in the next decade.
"You can't have slums next to your high-rises. I think the city's got to find land and give it to these people," she said. "But this land, this is too close to the Strip, it has too much potential."
Corchuelo is not the only thorn in James's side. A handful of Naked City holdouts -- some residents, some California investors -- are keeping her from assembling the neighborhood like a puzzle. She dismisses most.
"It's part of my job. I'm patient," she said.
And so is Corchuelo.
"I've been waiting 30 years for this," he said, adding that he knows exactly what he will do with the money once he sells.
"Buy another house," he said.