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Las Vegas’ top 10 real estate deals of 2018

Las Vegas’ real estate market draws no shortage of wheelers and dealers.

Investors are always buying, selling, building — and, if things go south, facing lawsuits and other problems.

Here is my list of Las Vegas’ top 10 real estate deals of 2018:

1. Buddhist temple

When it comes to land on or near the Strip, developers usually set out to build casinos, condo towers or other big projects. (Whether they build anything is another story.) But this summer, a different buyer emerged with very different plans.

The World Buddhism Association Headquarters bought a mostly vacant 12-acre lot at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, just east of the Strip, for $17.5 million. The sale closed in July.

The Southern California-based group plans to build a Buddhist temple. But the organization “has very limited funds,” and “there is no possibility of quickly beginning” construction, its attorney said this summer.

2. Hard Rock Hotel

British billionaire Richard Branson, the flamboyant founder of the Virgin Group, and partners acquired the Hard Rock Hotel, with plans to make it a Virgin-branded resort by the end of 2019.

The sale was announced in March. The price was not disclosed, but a person familiar with the matter said the 1,500-room hotel-casino sold for about $500 million.

3. Lucky Dragon foreclosure

It wasn’t a sale, but the Lucky Dragon traded hands – and I doubt anyone celebrated.

San Francisco developer Enrique Landa’s Snow Covered Capital, the resort’s main lender, foreclosed on the shuttered hotel-casino in October.

The 203-room Chinese-themed property opened in 2016 but struggled to draw big crowds, went bankrupt and closed its doors. Its demise was perhaps the fastest in Las Vegas in decades.

4. Mandarin Oriental

Panda Express is known for slinging broccoli beef and chow mein at malls and airports, but the fast-food chain’s founders also bought a luxury piece of the Strip this year.

Andrew and Peggy Cherng, co-CEOs of Panda Restaurant Group, teamed with hotel investor Tiffany Lam to acquire the Mandarin Oriental for $214 million. The sale closed in August.

The 47-story tower with hotel rooms and condos is now a Waldorf Astoria.

5. Station land

In a throwback to the pre-recession days, Station Casinos bought around 40 acres of land in the Skye Canyon community, in the upper northwest valley, for $36 million. The sale closed in November.

It was unclear if Station had any project plans, but the casino operator added to its sizable land holdings in the Las Vegas suburbs.

6. Raiders neighbor

With the Raiders building a 65,000-seat football stadium in Las Vegas, a small industrial site across the street became lucrative real estate.

Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group bought a 2-acre industrial property just west of the stadium for $6.5 million. The sale closed in November.

Osprey founder Sean Dalesandro said his group was planning a mixed-use project with a hotel and retail space.

7. Lotus

Months after the first renters moved to Lotus, developer Jonathan Fore sold the luxury Chinatown-area apartment complex for $76.7 million.

The purchase, by Green Leaf Partners, closed in November. It amounted to $260,000 per unit, double the market average as tracked by Colliers International.

8. Pinball Hall of Fame

In another unexpected deal for the resort corridor, operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame bought a 1.76-acre parcel of land at the south edge of the Strip for more than $4.5 million. The sale was recorded in August.

Charlotte Owens, who launched the Las Vegas arcade with her husband, Tim Arnold, said they want to build a 27,000-square-foot facility that would look, on the outside, like a pinball machine.

9. Google Henderson

Google acquired 64 acres of land in Henderson to build a data center, but the internet-search giant did it all under a shroud of secrecy.

An obscure entity called Jasmine Development LLC bought the project site in January for $19 million. The Review-Journal first reported in October on the data center and the rumors that Google was behind it, but public records did not show which company was behind Jasmine or any definitive links to Google, and the city of Henderson’s spokeswoman was mum on the developer, citing “confidentiality reasons.”

Google’s name eventually surfaced through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which approved $25.2 million in tax incentives for the project in November.

10. Mayweather mansion

Las Vegas’ luxury housing market notched a big sale in October, when, property records show, boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather bought a suburban compound for $10 million.

It includes a 16,357-square-foot mansion, two guesthouses, a pool house, small vineyard, underground garage, gym, wine cellar and indoor spa with a current that allows for stationary swimming, according to listing broker Kamran Zand, founder of Luxury Estates International.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.