Writes New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman: "Las Vegans I spoke with, young and old, complained about not having 'enough authentic places,' which are 'locally owned, one of a kind, less corporate,' as Tyler Jones, a 35-year-old architect-developer of luxury homes and third-generation Las Vegan, put it to me. They wanted a Las Vegas for Las Vegans." — New York Times
Las Vegas, a city long-defined by googie, short-term stays, and the flash and pulse of the Strip, is doing some soul-searching. The Downtown Project, backed by online apparel mogul and Zappo's executive Tony Hsieh, is leading efforts to cultivate authentic neighborhood feel and life at street level through investments in small-businesses filling decrepit areas of the city. Zappo's will soon relocate to the old City Hall building, and Hsieh and the Downtown Project are pursuing redevelopment under a feverish pace: 5 years to "transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world".
The rapid pace of redevelopment should seem familiar to those who watched Las Vegas emerge from a desolate patch of desert to a flashing neon playground for the rich and fabulous, and despite the good intentions of Hsieh and his partners, the question looms: is community developed in a flash anything more than a mirage?