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For the first time in more than 16 years since the Downtown Centennial Plan was developed in 2000, the city of Las Vegas has taken a fresh look at Downtown Las Vegas and interviewed countless stakeholders to create a comprehensive and visionary new Downtown Master Plan. On June 15, 2016, the plan was formally adopted via a unanimous vote by members of the Las Vegas City Council.

The plan, which has been in the works for nearly two years, was developed under the city’s direction and led by RTKL, a leading global architecture and urban design firm, which assembled a multi-disciplinary team of national and local consultants representing a variety of sectors, including transportation, economic development, sustainability and outreach.


The plan is intended to guide and inform downtown development for the next 30 years through 2045. According to Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman, city of Las Vegas, the plan is guided by a vision that borrows from the city’s rich and legendary history while keeping an eye on the future. “Downtown Las Vegas has a colorful and storied history as the birthplace of the city, the place where it all began,” said Goodman. “The area’s historic hotels, its surrounding architecturally distinctive neighborhoods and landmark venues such as the Mob and Neon Museums, stand as reminders of our city’s legacy.”

Over the past decade, Downtown Las Vegas has undergone dramatic revitalization thanks to significant private investment from companies like Zappos.com and public/private partnerships that have created iconic new facilities such as The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. According to Goodman, the result is nothing short of remarkable. “This area that was once in significant decline during the 1990s and early 2000s, is today regaining its luster and reclaiming its place as the heart of the city by both locals and tourists. “This new Downtown Master Plan was created to maximize and leverage the current momentum and chart a course for future development that ensures thoughtful and smart planning for the next generation and beyond.”

According to Robert Summerfield, AICP, planning section manager, long range planning and office of sustainability, city of Las Vegas, who managed the project for the city, the goal of the plan is to help revolutionize downtown Las Vegas as a progressive urban center known for opportunity and quality of life. “Every great city needs a forward-thinking plan to ensure future development will best meet the economic and social needs of the community, and Las Vegas is no exception. The plan now serves as a catalyst for the city to begin development of a long-term implementation effort to bring it to life.”

The plan was shaped with significant input from the community that began in 2014 with more than 100 stakeholder interviews, a series of public meetings, input from an executive steering community and ongoing public comment gathered online.

The plan includes strategies to increase residential density with a target of adding 4,000 to 5,000 workforce housing units; it identifies targeted industries in the areas of culture, tourism, medicine, technology and green businesses to help grow and diversify the daytime economy; it includes tactics to help establish and grow Centers of Excellence such as the emerging Medical District and Arts District, as well as a developing center of technology; it encourages promotion of business driven public-private partnerships; it identifies strategies to improve connectivity and mobility such as downtown circulator or light rail system; and of great significance, it establishes a definitive downtown boundary and distinctive districts that reflect the area’s origin and future aspirations.

The plan calls for the development of Centers of Excellence dedicated to technology and entrepreneurial endeavors such as the newly named Innovation District. It also includes boosting and enhancing existing Centers of Excellence such as the Medical District and the Arts District. While this alternative was the most aggressive in terms of its required level of public investment and public/private partnerships, it is considered by its creators, along with the city of Las Vegas, as the option that will best enhance the economic vibrancy of the area for decades to come.

The Downtown Master Plan is one of several initiatives that are part of a city-wide master planning effort, “City By Design,” that is creating a strategic vision for the future of the city of Las Vegas. For more information, visit lasvegasnevada.gov. Keyword: City by Design.

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