On a blazing hot afternoon, several friends cool off and gather for a game of cards inside the Jolly Beans Cafe, a local coffee shop in west Henderson. Board games are piled on a nearby shelf. Posters advertising community services and events line a bulletin board.
Some of the friends live in Inspirada, a master-planned community that opened in 2007. In a way, Inspirada represents a new era of Henderson communities that offer a mix of housing types, local businesses and walkable streets. It’s a different feel than the mostly single-family homes in Green Valley North or Seven Hills that were built with car travel in mind.
“I’m happy here,” says café patron and Inspirada resident Barbara Connolly between rounds of cards. “I’m not going back to New York.”
Inspirada was one of the only properties in west Henderson when Connolly moved in several years ago. Today, it remains seemingly remote, bound by vacant land to the west and the north. But that ‘s changing fast.
Northwest of Inspirada is a 55-acre parcel purchased by the Raiders to serve as the football team’s new corporate headquarters and practice facility. Farther west, plans are underway to build an Amazon distribution center and 2.3 million square-foot manufacturing facility.
West Henderson isn’t the only part of the city that’s evolving. Henderson’s historic core—downtown Henderson, also known as the Water Street District—is undergoing considerable change, too.
The Golden Knights are opening an ice arena on Water Street, sparking renewed interest in a neighborhood that struggled with disinvestment for years. Developers are buying up swaths of land and vacant storefronts to bring in residential units, local businesses and community hubs, breathing new life into the area.
Although Water Street and west Henderson are perhaps seeing the biggest changes right now, make no mistake: Henderson as a whole—from the historic core to the fast-growing west, to the luxury homes of Anthem—is booming.
Last year, the U.S. Census ranked Henderson the 12th-fastest-growing city in the country and the fastest-growing city in Nevada, having gained 10,800 residents between July 2017 and July 2018. Total population now exceeds 300,000.
But even as the city grows and neighborhoods evolve, quality of life remains at the forefront of planning in Nevada’s second-largest city, said Assistant City Manager Stephanie Garcia-Vause.
“Whether it’s the number of acres of parks per capita, access to trails and bike trails, or jobs near housing, all of those components are important to us in terms of making [this] community livable,” Garcia-Vause said.
West Henderson: A return to manufacturing roots?
Henderson’s birth and early development centered around the Basic Magnesium plant, which produced magnesium for the U.S. Military during World War II. The plant employed up to 14,000 workers during the war, many of whom lived in government-subsidized housing constructed near what would become downtown Henderson.
Basic Magnesium closed in 1944, but some workers stayed, and state officials opted to make the outpost a permanent city. After housing other industrial and manufacturing uses for some time, BMI now sits dormant off Lake Mead Parkway and Interstate 515.
While Henderson might seem far removed from its industrial past, manufacturing businesses are returning to the city, this time in west Henderson.
“It’s changing very quickly,” Scott Muelrath, president and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, said of west Henderson. “You used to be able to drive from Eastern out to the M [Resort] with very little delay. ... Really in the last three years, deals were done, firms were retained and construction started.”
A new Amazon distribution center, which will employ an estimated 1,000 workers, is expected to open in late 2019 or early 2020 off Bruner Avenue and Dale Avenue, Garcia-Vause said. But it’s just one of many projects about which city officials and the Henderson Chamber of Commerce are excited.
Haas Automation, which manufactures machine tools, is opening a warehouse and office and retail space off Via Inspirada. Spanning more than 2.3 million square feet, the warehouse facility will be the largest property in Henderson, Garcia-Vause said.
Haas expects to employ 1,400 people in Henderson within five years of opening, according to documents submitted to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. City officials say the company will offer its employees a “living wage” and help the city diversify its economy.
“Those are really good paying jobs and require training, but they don’t require degrees,” Garcia-Vause said.
When the new Raiders headquarters opens, possibly sometime in spring 2020, the feel of west Henderson could change even more. Already, more businesses have expressed interest in relocating to that part of town to be near the team, Muelrath said.
“Everybody wants to be out there now. It’s the cool place to be,” he said.
Water Street, reimagined
One of the oldest parts of the city, downtown Henderson/Water Street seems to be experiencing a renaissance.
The center of Henderson throughout the mid-20th century, Water Street saw disinvestment in the past 30 or so years as newer, higher-end developments moved west, Garcia-Vause said. Home to local businesses and modest mid-century homes, downtown struggled to compete with the expansive neighborhoods, residences and big-box stores in new, master-planned communities.
Development interest slowly returned to downtown after the city began beautifying and improving the area over the past 20 years, installing bike lanes, an iconic overhead canopy and new landscaping, Garcia-Vause said.
Assured Development was one of the first real estate companies to start investing in the area. Company president Joe Yakubik grew up in the neighborhood and has fond memories of visiting downtown, which sparked his investment interest.
“This was the nucleus. This was where everybody hung out, where everybody grew up,” Yakubik said. “As the city grew and expanded, so did the people.”
Yakubik is working on 12 redevelopment projects on a mostly vacant block of Water Street. The mixed-use properties will house apartments and local businesses, including an ice cream shop from Anderson Dairy Creamery, a southern barbecue restaurant, another restaurant from the owners of Carson Kitchen, a brewery and a boutique motel.
Assured also has plans to redevelop a dozen older homes off Water Street into 75 new housing units in the style of four-plexes and six-plexes, maintaining the character of the neighborhood. Those plans fit squarely with the city’s intent to boost Henderson’s supply of smaller housing units that can be sold at a more affordable, but still market, rate.
“Our goal is to incorporate our structures with [existing homes] and retain some of that existing housing,” Yakubik said.
Since the Golden Knights announced earlier this year that they would be opening an ice arena on- Water Street, downtown Henderson has seen even more investment interest, Garcia-Vause said. For example, developer Strada LV continues to make progress on “strEAT,” a proposed mixed-use property on Water Street that would center around a food hall.
More new developments are in the works for other parts of Henderson as well, including the arrival of a $600 million Google data center off Warm Springs Road and Boulder Highway. The surrounding neighborhood could become a “technology corridor,” Garcia-Vause said.
Henderson’s future has been laid out in the Henderson Strong Comprehensive Plan, which Muelrath says facilitates “responsible planning and growth.” That type of planning is exactly why the city has continued to succeed beyond its initially-temporary beginnings, attracting families, retirees like Connolly, new businesses and more.
“I think the city is very pro-development, but they have a plan that’s well-crafted, well thought-out,” Muelrath said. –Miranda Wilson
What goes best with coffee? How about sweets you can only find in this corner of the Valley? Start at Saga Pastry + Sandwich (10345 S. Eastern Ave. #100, 702-260-0860), where the national cakes of both Sweden and Norway are represented, as well as a Danish sweet roll called a semla. Friendly Donut House (856 S. Boulder Highway, 702-568-6196) is as old-fashioned (and glazed, filled and sprinkled) as they come, while Chef Flemming’s Bake Shop (7 S. Water St. #B, 702-566-6500) is a European-style bakery in the heart of downtown Henderson that makes crisp breads and pastries from scratch every day. Freed’s Bakery (9815 S. Eastern Ave., 702-456-7762) may now be TV famous, but it’s still a thrill to practically mash your face on the case as you pick out tiny treats by the pound.
Third Wave Coffee
Coffee is an important beverage for Hendersonians. Chemex, pour-overs and nitro brews are standard offerings, while bean sourcing and roasting are taken to a whole new level. Mothership Coffee Roasters (2708 N. Green Valley Parkway, 702-456-1869) is the original third-wave purveyor, while new additions Dark Moon Coffee Roasters (11041 S. Eastern Ave. #115, 702-840-3300) and Zen Coffee Bar (10960 S. Eastern Ave. #103, 702-546-0166) elevate the game. Public Works Coffee Bar (314 S. Water St. #110, 725-223-3900) in downtown Henderson is in a league of its own. The public-facing front of TSK Architects, Russian constructivism and Bauhaus influences are evident throughout, from the logo to the furniture to the color scheme.
Date Night Destinations
For a night of romance, check out Todd’s Unique Dining (4350 E. Sunset Road #102, 702-259-8633) for fresh seafood flown in daily. Pasta Shop (2525 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 702-451-1893) is as good as anything you’ll find on the Strip but tucked away in a cozy shopping alcove. Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis (702-617-7075) at Green Valley Ranch is a throwback to an era when dining out meant dressing up, and it even offers certified Kobe beef on the menu. Blume (3145 St. Rose Parkway #120, 702-444-7820) in Seven Hills is a new contender for most romantic spot with its French-Italian-influenced cuisine and royal blue velvet seating.
All about brunch
If there’s one thing Henderson does well, it’s the daytime repast. With four spectacular restaurants within a 4-mile radius, it is an embarrassment of Benedicts. Craft Kitchen (10940 S. Eastern Ave. #107, 702-728-5828) can be habit-forming with its fresh pastries and coffee, but linger over weekend brunch for special menu items. The Stove (11261 S. Eastern Ave. #200, 702-625-5216) has Insta-ready interiors and dishes that don’t need a filter. Kitchen Table (1716 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway #100, 702-478-4782) has an expansive menu, and the space is so cozy you’ll inevitably make friends with other diners, while Served (1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 702-263-0136), a stone’s throw from Kitchen Table, takes a global approach to brunch. –Genevie Durano
With Anthropologie, Francesca’s, Whole Foods Market, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret all in one place—plus makeup and skincare giant Sephora coming soon—the District is the Henderson destination for clothes, groceries, home goods and more. Add a number of eateries within walking distance and this promenade is the perfect place to knock out all your shopping needs and grab a bite to eat. 2240 Village Walk Drive, 702-564-8595.
Khoury’s Fine Wine and Spirits
Though not technically in Henderson, for self-professed wine connoisseurs and beer geeks in the southeast Valley, Khoury’s is truly a boozehound’s wonderland. Check out khourysfinewine.com to keep track of one-off beer tappings, complete with food trucks (on most Wednesday nights), and enjoy wine tasting every Thursday night from 6-8 p.m. If you’re looking for something to bring home, the shop also stocks a large selection of craft canned and bottled beers, small batch spirits and hard-to-find wine varietals. 9915 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 702-435-9463.
Archer + Jane
This adorable suburban boutique is similar to Buffalo Exchange, but for moms and their kids. Buy, sell and trade new and gently pre-worn clothing for boys, girls and moms-to-be. Archer + Jane offers store credit for used clothes, goods for kids up to size 8 and expectant mothers, and it’s often on the lookout for high chairs, walkers, strollers, toys and more. Search the store’s website to get a feel for the clothing and items it sells, from paper goods and jewelry, to candles and “green” toys made from recycled milk jugs. 19 S. Water St. #D, 702-929-2341.
Tempting Treasures by Jan
This locally owned baking supply store has been in operation for about 30 years, and offers everything you need for the baking fiend and culinary artist in your life. Where else can you find food-grade dyes, dusts and sprinkles in every color under the sun, plus cookie cutters, candy molds and more? Whether its tools or ingredients such as hi-ratio shortening or seasonal decorations to make your cupcakes and cookies pop, it’s all here under one roof. 30 S. Water St. #B, 702-564-5029. –Leslie Ventura
Its goal is to help develop Henderson’s emerging arts, culture, music and culinary scene. Goal achieved and then some. For two years, Last Friday and the nonprofit Just Add Water Street Foundation have been throwing a monthly outdoor street party. From chef competitions to live entertainment, art, shopping and more, it’s fun for the whole family. justaddwaterstreet.com
Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
Bring your binoculars (or borrow them from the Preserve) to get the best view of the birds and waterfowl. More than 270 species migrate through or live at the 140-acre Water Reclamation Facility, and in 1998, the then-unofficial birding spot was made official. Now, there are paved and soft-surface paths for easy viewing of nine birding ponds. Just remember, don't feed the animals! 350 E. Galleria Drive, 702-267-4180.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory
In 2016, portions of this Henderson favorite were remodeled in honor of the chocolate factory’s 35th anniversary. Visitors can now watch chocolatiers at work via a self-guided tour and windows that allow real-time viewing. Outside, the three-acre botanical cactus garden is home to more than 300 plant species. During the winter holidays, it’s lit up with festive lights and serves as a community gathering spot. The factory also hosts chocolate tasting classes, some with wine. 2 Cactus Garden Drive, 702-435-2608.
Shan-Gri-La Prehistoric Park
Regular house-turned-dinosaur house, this unique Henderson site is home to replicas of 57 prehistoric creatures. 733 Greenway Road, 702-555-1212.
Clark County Museum
This sprawling 30-acre site is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Southern Nevada. There’s an exhibit center with a timeline of our region, historic buildings on Heritage Street, trails, a garden and more. The October 1st Collection—artifacts that tell the story of the community responding to mass tragedy—is also housed here. Historic buildings include the Candlelight Wedding Chapel, a restored ghost town, a replica newspaper print shop and the Boulder City Depot. 1830 S. Boulder Highway, 702-455-7955
Pittman Wash Trail
You might not have noticed, but Henderson has 184 miles of trails. Our favorite is the picturesque Pittman Wash Trail, a 4-plus-mile paved path and natural oasis in the middle of the city. Enter at multiple locations, like Pecos Legacy Park, Pebble Road and Arroyo Grande Sports Complex. The trail connects to the 215 at Eastern Avenue, then winds its way northeast. Visit cityofhenderson.com for bicycle and walking trail maps.
Big Scary Gym
Don’t let the name intimidate you. This gym provides approachable fitness solutions for all. There’s a six-week weight-training academy, classes in fighting and youth boxing, help with weight loss and nutrition planning and more. Fitness equipment is from Rogue, and there are no contracts required, which makes it even easier to join. 644 E. Horizon Drive, 702-738-9996.
Lion Habitat Ranch
This nonprofit animal sanctuary has been operating since 1989. The general public can visit the facility and see lions up close, but those who want a little more can take the 90-minute, behind-the-scenes tour with a trainer or pay to hand-feed a giraffe or a lion. The Ranch will host your private party or event, and the brave can opt to “Feast with the Beasts.” The Lion Habitat Ranch supports Conservation International in Kenya. 382 Bruner Ave., 702-595-6666. –C. Moon Reed
Henderson Symphony Orchestra: New Frontiers at Henderson Pavilion September 20
Conductor Alexandra Arrieche leads the group through season-opening performances of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9and Mason Bates’“Mothership.” 8 p.m., free.
Ethel M Fall Festival at Ethel M Chocolate Factory September 21-22
The chocolate masters launch a new tradition with an all-ages gathering, featuring a hay maze, bounce house, treats and, for those 21 and over, add-on adult beverages. Noon-6 p.m., free, $25 for beer & chocolate tastings,
Last Friday on Water Street September 27 & October 25
Henderson’s monthly, all-ages community series continues with chef battles, music, art, food trucks and more. 6-10 p.m., free.
Oktoberfest at Galleria at Sunset September 28
Celebrate the seasonal German tradition with brats, pretzels, Bavarian music, polka dancing, a costume contest and, yes, lots and lots of beer. 3 p.m., $25-$50.
Margarita Mojito Sangria Festival at Cornerstone Park September 28
Set up a ride home in advance and enjoy unlimited pourings of more than 40 types of margaritas, mojitos, sangrias, craft beers and wines. 4-9 p.m., $30.
Henderson Hot Rod Days on Water Street October 4-5
Scope out classic cars during two full days of live entertainment, food and shopping. Friday, 3-10 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; free.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind screening with Henderson Symphony Orchestra at Henderson Pavilion October 18
Experience Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi classic, with John Williams’ score simultaneously performed live. 8 p.m., free.
Todrick Hall at Green Valley Ranch Grand Events Center October 18
The YouTube star, RuPaul’s Drag Race choreographer and American Idol contestant brings his Haus Party Tour to town. 7:30 p.m., $29-$49.
Tough Mudder at Lake Las Vegas October 19-20
Overcome a variety of obstacles and more than 8-10 grueling miles (or a slimmed-down 5K) … or cheer your friends on from the sidelines. Times vary, $20-$179.
38 Special at Green Valley Ranch Grand Events Center November 1
Co-founder Don Barnes brings the Southern-rock veterans behind “Hold on Loosely” and “Caught Up in You” back to town. 8 p.m., $19-$49.
Joe Nichols at Henderson Pavilion November 2
The Arkansas-born singer and guitarist behind such top 10 country hits as “Brokenheartsville” and “Sunny and 75” stops by, with opener Elvis Monroe. 7 p.m., $25-$35.
Veterans Day Ceremony Henderson Amphiteatre, Water Street November 2
Henderson Mayor Debra March, the Henderson City Council and the Basic High Marine Corps Junior ROTC pay tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 10 a.m., free.
Henderson Stroll ’n Roll at Paseo Verde Parkway November 16
This Bogota, Colombia-inspired street festival will close roads to motorized vehicles, encouraging bicyclists, skaters, skateboards and walkers to enjoy live entertainment, activities, interactive demos and more. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., free.
Winterfest on Water Street December 13-14
Henderson’s annual holiday hullabaloo brings a Santa-led tree-lighting ceremony together with a light parade and much more. Times TBD, free.