Downtown 2035 analyzes the area’s present and future prospects

Photo: Steve Marcus

With all the dialogue about what Downtown does and does not have—as decided by passionate and hyper-vigilant proponents and opponents of the city’s urban core—a study commissioned by the City of Las Vegas offers some interesting findings to chew on.

As part of the Downtown 2035 master plan, the study looked at demographics, statistics and activity within 2,361 acres in an effort to guide redevelopment. In doing so, it committed a cardinal sin for locals who insist Las Vegas is so unique it should never be compared to other cities. But pointing out that Downtown’s 0.2 percent of open space (parks and gardens) was not just significantly less than New York City’s 36 percent but also Phoenix’s 19 percent seemed easily understood by residents in a public discussion last month. Many said that more shade was a legitimate need.

Residents at the discussion also brought up the issue of vacant property, another deterrent to economic development and quality of life. The study concluded that 250 of the 2,361 acres are vacant, along with 26 percent of housing in the area.

The master-plan project, kicked off in October and led by international planning and design firm RTKL, included a 90-day meeting period with area stakeholders, residents, casino representatives and city staff. It looked at crime, transportation, social services and cultural offerings.

While much of the Downtown data was compared to Clark County (700 times more crime in the city than in the county during one period) and other cities, it stands on its own in terms of impact, helping to show why things are the way they are in terms of livability, poverty and even support for Downtown businesses.

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