Neon lights, showgirls in glitzy, glittering costumes, restaurants and casinos, and an endless street party – that's Vegas. Pedestrian-friendly streets lined with coffee shops and restaurants, boutiques and businesses, trendy apartments and lofts – a great work, live, play community – that's also Vegas. Or it will be, as Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, works to transform downtown Las Vegas into a fun, trendy neighborhood.
Zappos will soon be located in the old, historic City Hall building downtown – and that's not all. Hsieh's forward-thinking Downtown Project is pumping millions into the local economy and businesses are setting up shop to take advantage of all of these changes. After all, the urban lifestyle is trending once again as people realize the convenience of never having to drive anywhere – the corner market, the restaurants, the shops, and their jobs are all within walking distance.
Developing a close-knit, connected community will spark ingenuity and improve
productivity – with that goal in mind, the Downtown Project, according to their website, has "allocated $350 million to aid in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas." They are also investing millions in small businesses, tech startups, education, and real estate. The result is an emerging community that promises great art, music, fashion, and more.
As the excitement builds, events such as First Friday are catching on – this art festival brings together a wide variety of artists and vendors, along with activities for the whole family. There's also live music, food trucks, live performances, and an Interactive KidZone. Other community events include the biweekly Green Jelly, an environmental event; the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market, which features locally-grown, organic produce and artisanal foods; Vegas StrEATS, a festival that celebrates local food trucks, artists, musicians, and fashion; and Family Game Night.
Soon, Downtown Las Vegas will look something like this: small, local parks edged with cafes and other businesses, mixed-used buildings, green spaces and other gathering spaces, and a wide variety of locally-owned small businesses. It will have cutting-edge schools, a diverse population, and environmentally-friendly features such as green roofs, urban gardens, and plenty of parks. Public transit, bicycling, and walking will be the norm, and the Downtown Project has partnered with the Regional Transportation Commission to make getting around even easier.
Hseih, who is passionate about his plan to transform Downtown Las Vegas, got the idea when Zappos outgrew its Henderson, Nevada location and he purchased the old City Hall building. He wanted the company to be connected to the community, and for the community to benefit from that interaction. Hseih believes in businesses giving back to the community – something he refers to as "ROC" – Return on Community. This symbiotic relationship between businesses and community, along with the green initiatives, make this an exciting endeavor to watch.
If you want to be a part of this transformation, start looking for your apartment in Downtown Las Vegas. Within the next five years, the Downtown Project is hoping to draw upwardly mobile, innovative professionals to the area – at least 10,000 of them. As the slogan claims, what happens in Vegas stays there – and the people who move to downtown Vegas are sure to stay, as well.