Folks, wait till you see what they’re building in that section of town that now bears the formal name Downtown Summerlin. Rest assured that it will be a proud moment for all of Southern Nevada, and not just for residents of Summerlin, once the regional retail center opens in about two months.
That’s because the center, which has been many years in the making and survived an economic collapse of unparalleled proportion for Las Vegas, may be the first section of the most exciting and innovative “mixed use” project of its kind in America. And it’s on schedule to open Oct. 9.
For almost two years you’ve been hearing about the 130-plus retail outlets — including anchors Dillard’s and Macy’s — and the range of smaller shops, some of them upscale, others that will fulfull the simplest needs. You’ve heard about the restaurants, the nine-story office tower and even the luxurious movie theater with its reclining seats.
You’ve also heard about the pedestrian promenades, the multitude of state-of-the-art and glittering architectural marvels, even about the 400 or so palm trees, many of which are of the majestic royal palm variety. And of course there are the ultra-modernistic structures designed to provide shade, all within the confines of wide, tree-lined streets and walkways.
Furthermore, you’ve gotten some hints about what to expect once the second section of Downtown Summerlin gets going in earnest. But maybe you don’t know about the more than 4,000 housing units, largely in the form of luxury and mid-range condos. Those are just getting started.
There are going to be high rises of up to 20 stories, mid rises as high as 12 stories, podiums of four and five stories, townhouses and stacked flats that will be a throwback to urban living of yesteryear. And it’s being created in a setting of tree-lined streets, broad sidewalks, coffee shops, restaurants, a contemporary reminder of a bygone urban era consisting of bakeries, groceries and other small shops, all customized into a 21st century environment.
When you piece it all together, perhaps the most fitting depiction of the 400-acre development is that it will serve as “the crown jewel of Summerlin.” That was the term used by Tom Warden as we toured the area.
Warden is the senior vice president of community and government relations for The Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of Summerlin. It eventually will be the administrator of “what may well become the biggest mixed-use project in the United States.”
What is a “mixed-use” project, you might ask? It’s an all-inclusive environment that contains the fundamental necessities of living — homes, retail and commercial needs, restaurants of every type, entertainment, pedestrian walkways — all in an architecturally aesthetic, park-like surrounding.
More than that, “it will allow people to walk anywhere within the community in 10 to 15 minutes,” Warden added. He was effervescent as he presented a slide portrayal in the Hughes conference room of how Downtown Summerlin eventually will appear. That was just before we departed on the personal auto tour.
Included in the slide presentation is the depiction of a baseball stadium that’s situated within the second section, just southeast of Red Rock Resort and a short distance from the retail center.
“If we’re successful, the stadium would be constructed here,” Warden said.
That’s all he would say about the effort to build a new ballpark for the Las Vegas 51s. The team is jointly owned by Hughes and a group of Las Vegas investors led by retired businessman Steve Mack. The owners have been in talks with city and county officials about including the ballpark in Downtown Summerlin, a move that would replace Cashman Field as the home of the 51s.
Warden explained that the retail center “represents significant investments not just by Howard Hughes Corp. but by the various retail organizations as well.” It will contain scattered surface and garage parking for more than 6,000 vehicles.
“There are presently more than 2,000 people involved in the construction of this project,” Warden said. “It’s interesting to note that once we open on Oct. 9, there will be more than 2,000 permanent jobs that will have been created on the same site.”
Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.