Downtown Las Vegas has made incredible strides in the past few years. We’ve seen the opening of a world-class performing arts center. A leading online retailer had moved Downtown, bringing with it new jobs and new residents. The businesses of the 18b Arts District are thriving. And you only need walk a couple blocks down Fremont Street to see how quickly Fremont East has come along in a very short time. Commonwealth, Radio City Pizza, Park on Fremont, Rachel’s Kitchen and La Comida are just a few businesses in the exploding Fremont East corridor whose doors weren’t open a year ago, and they’ll soon be old news: Container Park, Scullery and Inspire Theater are nearly ready to open their doors.
The speed with which these changes are being effected is nearly blinding … and yet, sometimes, it feels maddeningly slow. All you need to do is walk around someone else’s finished downtown core — like, say, that of Portland, Oregon, pictured above — and you start counting our own omissions: We don’t have enough park space. We don’t have utility poles to stick fliers on. We don’t have enough bike lanes, book stores or restaurants. We’ve made so many miracles happen in so short a time; what’s a few more?
My question for you today is this: If you could fix one thing in Downtown Las Vegas right now, one single thing that could be addressed inside of a year, what would it be? Would you add benches and shade trees? Would you open a bookstore on Main Street? Or install a bocce court at Huntridge Circle Park? There are so many small pieces missing from our Downtown reboot, and they can be just as important as adding big stuff like housing and supermarkets.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should be Portland, or Los Angeles, or anything other than what we are. Las Vegas isn’t just a place, it’s a vernacular — and Portlanders should be walking around our Downtown saying, Wow, this is really different; I wish we had something like this. And we’ll get there. But there are still lots of details to fill in, little touches that will make our neighborhoods more iconic, more fun and more livable. So, if you could institute one “quick fix” for your Downtown Las Vegas today, what would it be? Comment below, and let’s rub this in Portland’s smug hippie face.
PHOTO BY GEOFF CARTER