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July 6, 2015

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J. Patrick Coolican:

On the horizon: A quick look at projects poised to shape downtown


Ryan Olbrysh

If it’s happening Downtown, J. Patrick Coolican is going to let you know about it.

J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican

The action is downtown. Neil Young wrote a song about it, “Yeah the hippies all go there/Cause they want to be seen.”

While development remains fairly moribund in the rest of the Las Vegas Valley, there’s suddenly a diverse array of projects in various states of planning and completion downtown.

In the first of what will be a regular feature, let’s go around the horn and check in on some notable parcels.

Arnold Stalk has a history of community-minded development, especially retrofitting dodgy motels. He’s currently working on three projects:

The Econo Lodge at 1150 S. Las Vegas Blvd. is being sold to a nonprofit, which will link up with Las Vegas Urban League, Lutheran Social Services of Nevada and other nonprofits to offer transitional housing for veterans, along with medical and social services to that population.

Variety Early Learning Center will move from 990 D St. to the former Nevada State Museum at 700 Twin Lakes Drive. The school is for kids from 2 months to school age and will help prepare them for kindergarten. The move will allow the school to double enrollment to 250 kids. Much needed. Stalk is using a lot of skilled volunteer labor to do the work, but still needs $750,000 for the retrofit. Donate at

The Las Vegas Gateway Project at Fremont and Eastern, at the eastern end of downtown, already has the 2100 Club bar at 2100 Fremont, but will hopefully add a major commercial development that will revitalize the area while retaining its Latin feel. Stalk has approval for a 90,595-square-foot shopping center at the northwest corner of Charleston and Fremont, according to the Planning Department. Dreamers hope this could be an ethnic enclave that draws locals and even tourists, like Chinatown.

• At the same intersection, the important “Five Points” that bring together Charleston, Eastern and Fremont, Trinity Schlottman has approval for 85 Urban Loft townhouse units.

• Simon Malls received approval from the Planning Commission this month to build a 159,257-square-foot addition to the existing outlet mall and expand the parking garage. (Las Vegas: World leader in parking!)

• At 6th and Fremont, construction has started on Commonwealth bar.

• Across the street at 601 Fremont, approvals are in place for another bar.

• After years of financial limbo, Juhl Lofts at 4th and Bonneville seems ready to go. As one downtown real estate insider says, “I think people are waiting to see what rents it draws, as a barometer on whether to go forward with new residential projects.”

• The Las Vegas Planning Department informs me that Barnet Liberman received approval last year for a 14-story mixed-use building with 247 units and 7,580 square feet of commercial space at the northeast corner of Casino Center Boulevard and Coolidge Avenue. He also has approvals for a 1,200-unit residential project at Charleston Boulevard and 4th Street.

• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement received approval for a big office building at Las Vegas Boulevard and Clark Avenue. Perhaps employees will want to live near work and will push up housing demand downtown.

• The Zappos-affiliated Downtown Project has proposed a much-discussed shipping container development at 7th and Fremont streets. The project would use actual shipping containers for bars, restaurants and such.

• And here’s hoping: Solterra, a British Columbia-based company, has approvals for two buildings at 1st Street and Hoover Avenue: a 50-story mixed-use tower with 700 units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space, and a 14-story mixed-use tower with 130 units and 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. So if you know of something else in the works, send it my way and we’ll do this again soon.

J. Patrick Coolican is a columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. Follow him on Twitter @jpcoolican or email him at His Neon Eden radio show airs Mondays at 8 a.m. on 91.5 FM.

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  1. Thanks Patrick. Wow! This is exciting! I need to get out from behind this computer and do some leg work on my own. Watching the strip and focusing on gaming numbers does not show the full development picture in Las Vegas.

    Just a note. I would say you can thank former Mayor Oscar Goodman for getting the ball rolling. Yeah, Oscar Goodman. He always talked about development downtown on a large scale. Thanks Oscar.

  2. You forgot to mention Art Square, a 16 space retail and commercial space next to the Artifice Bar at First and Boulder. It will be online very soon and creates all new space inside a formerly derelict warehouse.

  3. Creative destruction at work.....the underlying principle of capitalism. We lived in Portland, OR. 35 years ago and worked for the the County Exec. when he got started on something similar. There were two benefits in Portland; leadership from the public sector as well as a supportive city/county establishment and, a couple of visionary, deep-pocket property owners/developers [the Naito family]. Las Vegas has the latter but I'm not convinced that the former is in place other than the Goodmans. It's well known that both LV and Clark County are difficult places to do business with a burdensome regulatory environment and generally indifferent service from regulators. One issue that will need to be addressed early on is dislocation of existing population; homeless, transient motels, SRO occupants and disabled/veterans/low-income. Redeveloped urban areas are not welcoming to those folks so the planners and implementers can address the needs of these folks up front or fight protracted public relations and legal battles as the go along.

  4. Thank you Mr. Coolican for putting this out for many to see. It will draw the negative but fact is Downtown is improving and coming back to life.

    Glad to see that there are some future plans for Five Points. Once a good area but is old and neglected. Maybe with some new coming in others in the area will look to improve on their properties.

    Downtown is what a person makes of it. Yes, there are street people but in many years we have yet to have any problem with one when we go downtown. If you look for problems chances are you will find it but go with the right attitude and you will have a good time.

    Vegas is stepping up, one step at a time.

  5. Lots of good things to look forward to downtown. Now they just need to get Fresh and Easy to reopen their store.

  6. Coolican, can you or any of the reporters do a story that demonstrates Las Vegas is slowly getting better as far as knowing your neighbors and a greater sense of community because people have stopped jumping from house to house and have been kind of forced to stay put. The 'good' unintended consequences are getting to actually know your neighbor and kids staying in the same school and making lasting friendships. With kids now growing up in Las Vegas they will hopefully want to stay here and establish a business or other interests they may have. I truly think we are on the way up "SOCIALLY" for the next generation, that's 30 years right?