Downtown Las Vegas Revitalization Brings Business, Jobs and Residents

The City of Las Vegas has been pursuing a downtown revitalization initiative since 2002. A legacy of former mayor Oscar B. Goodman (1999-2011), the goal is to bring more businesses downtown and reduce urban blight.

In November 2010, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh put his own spin on the effort, announcing plans to move Zappos’ headquarters from nearby Henderson to Las Vegas’ old City Hall by October 2013.

The Downtown Project

Additionally, in 2011, Hsieh financed a separate $350 million initiative, the Downtown Project, to give seed money to startup companies that move downtown and attract national media coverage. 

Hsieh’s high-profile work has had the secondary effect of drawing attention to efforts by the City of Las Vegas and other local business owners:

  • In 2007, a $5.5 million public-private partnership between the city and Fremont East property and business owners installed retro-looking neon signage, and pedestrian-friendly walkways, in the six-block neighborhood.
  • In April 2010, the Emergency Arts building opened. The former medical center, repurposed, now houses The Beat (a coffeehouse) and three floors of creative enterprises.

Now, three years after opening Emergency Arts, entrepreneur Michael Cornthwaite sees the continued existence of Fremont East ventures as evidence of success.

Rental units get a boost

By extension, downtown redevelopment transforms the lives of renters. For Zappos employees, relocating from suburban Henderson to urban downtown adds a new overlap to seamlessly integrated personal time and work time.

Dee Trevino, concierge at Juhl, a 341-unit high-rise at 353 E. Bonneville Ave., says that Zappos coworkers were already friends. Now in a denser living environment they are neighbors, too.

Zappos workers are a small but visible percentage of residents at high-density residences. John Tippins, CEO of Northcap and Live Work Vegas, estimates that five percent of his residents at Juhl are Zappos employees or affiliates. Tippins says that percentage is even higher at The Ogden, a 275-unit high-rise at 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N.

Since converting 306 units to rentals in 2012, Juhl has gone from 10 percent to 90 percent occupancy, Tippins says. Since converting 248 units to rentals in 2011, The Ogden has gone from 5 percent to 100 percent occupancy with a waiting list, he says.

One high-rise dweller new to the area is Loren Becker. Becker edits the Zappos Employee Newsletter, as Zappos Experience and Community Team Manager. He said part of his decision to move downtown involved researching building security, parking options and proximity to amenities. For 20 months he’s resided in Soho Lofts, a 120-unit high-rise at 900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Becker has been happy with his new living arrangements and has encouraged his co-workers to relocate, too. During personal time and work time, he has helped place about three dozen Zappos employees in homes downtown.

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