Vegas Downtown Project: Urban Renewal for a New Generation

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Thanks to the Vegas Downtown Project, Las Vegas is becoming a hotspot for young talent.

In an attempt to attract a new generation to the bright lights of Las Vegas, local planners and imaginative entrepreneurs are revitalizing the city through expansive urban renewal projects that include concert venues, office spaces, urban conveniences, and shopping centers. One such development is the 60-acre Vegas Downtown Project, an expansive $350 million investment that hopes to draw money-conscious millennials back to Sin City.

Reviving Vegas for the Younger Tourist

Without enough disposable income, millennials just aren’t as drawn to the gambling lifestyle of Vegas as the generations before them. Though the past six years have seen a drop in the average age of Vegas tourists, that number is still only wavering around 45 years old. The CDC reported that “unusual travel experiences are high on the typical millennial’s radar.” To embrace this changing mentality, the larger downtown area is going through a massive revival of unique dining, shopping, and working opportunities for both millennials who visit and those who stay for the long haul.

The Entrepreneurial Energy of Vegas

Spearheaded by Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, the Downtown Project is more than a conventional outdoor mall. Hsieh stated in a press release that the project itself is a compilation of more than 300 businesses, including real estate, restaurants, a health clinic, music festivals, and tech companies. The project directly employs 300 people, with more than 800 employed within the larger scope of businesses.

The Vegas Downtown Project, as described on its site, has a mission to “help make downtown Vegas a place of inspiration, entrepreneurial energy, creativity, innovation, upward mobility, and discovery … in a long-term, sustainable way.”

To create such sustainability, a portion of the project invests in the Vegas Tech Fund, an investment fund that seeks to expand on the growing tech startup community in the downtown area. With countless small, creative operations sprouting out of the desert, the Downtown Project does more than support consumer-driven culture, it aims to cultivate entrepreneurial thinkers.

Hub of Consumer Innovation

Vegas is no stranger to flashy design. Like the startup ambiance that attracts so many millennials today, planners infused this urban renewal with an eclectic flair, bringing modernist bohemian design, tech-centric architecture, and the preservation of Vegas tradition to the unique shops, gourmet dining, and vibrant music scene. These exciting attractions include the following:

  • Container Park: The epicenter of the project, this area is made of redesigned shipping containers and houses boutique shops, restaurants, and an amphitheater where musicians, artisans, and entertainers perform daily.
  • The Market: Food lovers, culinary connoisseurs, and aspiring sommeliers can have an urban grocery experience complete with fresh produce, high-end coffee, and craft wine and beer.
  • Mint Locker: This inventive representation of urban convenience is a startup laundry service that aims to revolutionize the dry-cleaning industry by providing customers with accessible lockers, text message notifications, and flexible operating hours.
  • Oasis at Gold Spike Hotel: With 44 customized rooms, this boutique hotel features a blend of digital amenities alongside the retro decor of Elvis or Sinatra paintings.

An experimental venture of this magnitude may be viewed as risky. But venture capitalists often strive for disruptive models that reshape conventional standards. The Downtown Project may be a beta test in urban revivalism, but as millennials continue to have a growing influence on Vegas’s tourism and tech startup industry, developers may be wise to pursue vibrancy and change.

Over 6,000 articles appear under Marv Dumon's byline. He has written for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Yahoo!, and Fortune 500 clients. Marv previously worked in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and Six Sigma, and earned BA, BBA and MPA degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.