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Master & Special Area Plans FAQs

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How big is the downtown study area?

The area includes roughly 5-square-miles, stretching from Rancho Drive to the west, to the five points to the East, Owens Avenue to the North, and Sahara Avenue to the South. It includes the following districts: Civic and Business, Resort and Casino, Fremont East, 18b Las Vegas Arts District, Symphony Park, the Las Vegas Medical District, Founders, Cashman, the Historic Westside, Market, Design and Gateway. 

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What are the benefits of a coordinated plan?

Several options emphasize development of culture, improved quality of life, more competitive businesses and a more sustainable city. In the next 20 years, depending on incentives and processes offered by the city, a coordinated plan could yield:

  • Up to 10 million GSF of mixed-use development clustered around new transit hubs throughout downtown.
  • As many as 5,000 new housing units in a variety of formats.
  • Up to 30 acres of open spaces in downtown, more than a 1,500 percent increase, including a new central park with community based programming.
  • Extensive tree canopy and urban streetscape, creating more than 30 linear miles of green streets and urban trails.
  • Extensive Light Rail Transit and bus system linking downtown to UNLV, the airport, Springs Preserve and beyond.
  • A new grocery store, drugstore, movie theatre, community center and other amenities serving downtown residents.
  • 1-2 million GSF of creative office spaces and research and development facilities targeting medical, robotics, and creative industries.
  • New cultural and educational facilities, including a new, Museum of Modern Art and school and vocational training.
  • Expanded district wide community services including a Business Improvement District, wayfinding program, improved safety, better access to homeless services, expanded senior housing and district wide energy, water and waste management
What is the biggest challenge to the planning effort?
The market based approach the city has engaged in to date can only take a city so far. Although downtown is visited by more than 20 million people annually, the great recession has hollowed out downtown’s housing stock resulting in lack of affordability, few amenities, limited mobility choices and high rates of homelessness; the cumulative effect has had a chilling effect on the local and regional economy. Investment in downtown is roughly a quarter of other cities of similar population such as Detroit. Making a change in land-use policy that promotes and invests in niche industries such as tourism, medical, creative and green tech, provides affordable housing, better access to green space, job training and community amenities will position downtown for a more prosperous future. Outreach poll results suggest the community is ready to make a significant commitment to investing in a more proactive land use plan for downtown. There are costs involved, but the long term benefits of the investment are greater.
What is the vision for downtown?
A vision statement is important to a planning effort because it creates a picture of where the community is headed and what it stands for. The vision statement is “the Legend Reinvented” and can be found on page 12 of the plan. The result of extensive stakeholder input, City Council review and ongoing refinement, it represents the fusion of three primary demographic trends impacting the post-recession downtown: the continued growth of casinos and tourism, the increasing diversity and youth of the community, and the ethic of co-creation found in the entrepreneurs who have settled recently in downtown.
What did outreach tell us?
That people are much more in agreement about what is needed for downtown than they might realize. When asked what game changing elements are needed to transform downtown, 42 percent said mixed use hubs, 36 percent said urban retail and entertainment and 30 percent said green streets. Similarly, City Council when asked what they thought was most important to the planning effort ranked mixed use hubs and green streets of primary importance.

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