Joe Downtown

Joe Downtown: 36 Downtown developments you should know about

Radio City Pizza opens on Fremont Street this week.
Photo: Steve Marcus

It’s been just over two years since Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh announced the movement of his headquarters from Henderson to Downtown. In that time, Downtown has changed—greatly in some areas, more slowly in others—and growth and interest in Downtown business has outpaced predictions made before the Zappos declaration in late 2010.

From time to time, we’ll check in to see what’s been added, what’s failed or stalled and what has never gotten off the ground. Here are some new businesses, events and happenings you should know about. One caveat: As things are moving quickly, this is undoubtedly incomplete. When you hear of something we’ve missed, please let us know.

1. The first of Zappos’ 1,000-plus employees moved Downtown last summer. Some 200 people now work in a mid-rise office building on Third Street and Carson Avenue.

2. Take-Two Interactive, a videogame company, is moving a portion of its game-testing facilities Downtown. It will bring 150 new jobs to the area.

3. Downtown Project. Founded by Hsieh and other investors, DTP is a $350 million initiative to rebuild Downtown Las Vegas, with plans to invest $200 million in real estate, $50 million in small businesses, $50 million in education, arts and music, and $50 million in tech startups through the VegasTechFund (keep reading for a list of TechFund investments).

4. The former 7-Eleven at Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard is being gutted and renovated for Inspire Theater, which will host speakers.

5. Eat, Downtown Project’s first small-business investment, opened at Seventh and Carson last fall.

6. The Container Park. This Downtown Project development under construction at Seventh and Fremont will house bars and retail stores inside “cubes,” and add several new businesses.

7. Coterie, at 515 E. Fremont Street, is a clothing store and coworking space.

8. Big Ern’s BBQ, 102 S. Seventh Street, is operated by former Zappos employee Ernie Loya.

9. Las Vegas Camera Club offers rentable photographic equipment inside Emergency Arts.

Radio City Pizza

10. Radio City Pizza is expected to open within days at 508 E. Fremont Street, adjacent to Insert Coin(s).

11. Downtown Construction Zone (on Seventh between Carson and East Fremont) is used as a theater for speakers and other community events.

12. Commonwealth, a tavern at the corner of East Fremont and Sixth, opened late last year.

13. At the Ogden, local café Rachel’s Kitchen is expected to open within weeks, with Slice pizza parlour coming by summer. Ogden Bar plans to open on the first floor later this year.

14. Stitch Factory, a fashion incubator, is up and running in the old City Hall Annex.

15. A new medical clinic and new model for providing care will open later this year with DTP funding.

16. Fremont Shoes: A former Zappos executive plans to open a shoe factory Downtown this year.

17. Atomic Liquors, an iconic bar on Fremont that has been closed for a few years, is under new ownership and expected to reopen by summer.

18. Bike- and car-share programs are expected by the end of 2013.

19. A fee-based dog park will open on Fremont at Eighth.

20. Airstream 2 Go plans to start renting Airstream trailers and trucks at 10th and Ogden on land leased from the DTP.

21. Work in Progress has created two coworking offices. A total of five are planned.

22. Fremont East Studios, in the former TV studios of City Hall, will document all Downtown Project developments.

23. Park on Fremont, a beer garden at Fremont and the Boulevard, is close to opening, and Michael Morton is building a Mexican restaurant on Sixth, just south of Commonwealth.

24. The Life Is Beautiful festival will be held Downtown in October.

25. Hsieh and three others purchased rights to the trademark of First Friday, and Hsieh created the First Friday Foundation to connect artists with creative services.

26. Vegas StrEATS, a street food and culture festival featuring local food trucks and artists the second Saturday of each month, celebrates its second anniversary in March.

27. Sunday Reset Project, the first Sunday morning of each month, invites people to spend 45 minutes walking/running, followed by meditation and breakfast.

28. Tech “jellies” meet at the Emergency Arts building and the Beat coffee shop.

29. Teach for America. Hsieh and Downtown Project are investing $2.7 million in Teach for America, the national program that draws some of the brightest college graduates from around the country for teaching placements in struggling schools.

30. Venture for America. Downtown Project is investing in this nationwide organization that recruits college grads to work with startups. The first seven graduates started with DTP in August; DTP announced a $1 million pledge to VFA last year.

31. Code for America sent a team to Vegas to work with city staff to help solve problems via technology. DTP and the City of Las Vegas are each pledging $160,000 to CFA.

32. Catalyst Creative brings in speakers on a variety of topics each month.

33. The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market is held every Friday at Casino Center and Stewart.

34. The Color Run and Glow Run have both started and ended Downtown.

35. Cycle Pub, a moving sorta-tandem bike for eight or 10 riders, takes people who pedal themselves bar hopping Downtown.

36. Silver State Production Services and Downtown Films coordinate, supervise and assist in video productions.

The following are 20 current VegasTechFund investments from its website, with über-abbreviated descriptions:

1. Romotive: smartphone robots.

2. Wedgies: informal social polling.

3. RollTech: bowling matches via your phone.

4. SPIRIT project: connects those who hurt with those who help.

5. ecomom: (out of business.)

6. Ticket Cake: helps event organizers sell tickets.

7. Fandeavor: wowing fans with one-of-a-kind experiences.

8. Digital Royalty: ideas to grow your brand.

9. Local Motion: small electric vehicles.

10. Not Safe For Work Corp.: “Journalism with jokes.”

11. LaunchBit: niche email newletters.

12. Order Mapper: buying stuff via your smartphone.

13. SkillShare: global classes marketplace.

14. Zirtual: virtual assistants.

15. Original: better than resumes.

16. Teamly: helping businesses.

17. LUXr: also helping businesses.

18. LaunchKey: getting rid of passwords.

19. Bluefields: social platform for amateur athletes.

20. General Assembly: tech, business and design education.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover Downtown, he lives and works there. He is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded Downtown journalist, stationed at an office in Emergency Arts. His work appears in the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly.
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