Summerlin pivotal in city's renaissance

The blueprint for Las Vegas of the future has been in forward motion for quite some time, irrespective of the unyielding economic meltdown. Re-creation of downtown Las Vegas, which continues to move rapidly, is a principal step in the overall process. But that's followed by plans for expansion and growth.

And make no mistake about it, the potentials for expansiveness within Summerlin and northwest Las Vegas are vital components in an overall renaissance that has taken root in the city.

That's not just some theory that pervades the corridors of City Hall; it comes directly from the mayor's mouth. An enthused Carolyn Goodman couldn't be more outspoken in her explanation of the ongoing plan for Las Vegas, beginning with the remake of the downtown core and expanding well into the outer reaches.

"When we speak of expansion, we can't go to the northeast, because that's Nellis property. And we can't go straight north, but northwest is open and west in Summerlin, beyond (the Las Vegas Beltway), is wide open," Goodman said.

"There's still plenty of land available for development," she added, referring to almost 7,000 open acres in Summerlin.

Overall, Goodman envisions the Las Vegas of tomorrow as an ultimate "work, live and play place. And that's what is beginning to take hold here," the mayor said during an interview in her office.

She cited the city of Baltimore as an exemplary model for what can be accomplished in Las Vegas.

"Baltimore is the perfect example of what was once a horribly rundown and dilapidated area," she said. "It has since become an exciting and vibrant city."

She told how she and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, met at length with Baltimore officials. The Baltimore crowd explained how their city went about the task of a major revival, from sheer blight to a model for renewal, starting with redevelopment of the harbor front and construction of a baseball stadium in the downtown area.

Goodman also cited San Diego and San Francisco, where construction of baseball stadiums in the downtown sectors led to major redevelopment and magnets for commercial and residential growth.

"Here, we have the 61 acres that Oscar sought to revive the city," Goodman said. She referred to the occupants ---- Las Vegas Premium Outlets, followed by the World Market Center, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, The Smith Center and Symphony Park.

"But now we're working on an arena. This would be an intimate arena, where we could have an NBA basketball team," Goodman added, emphasizing that she's looking for private funding.

"We're very optimistic," she said, referring to the expectation for an NBA franchise in Las Vegas.

"When we met with the Baltimore people, they told us that a quality city needs quality medical care," she said. "It needs a great cultural base, and it needs sports. And so we're looking to put the last piece in place."

"That's why I really ran for this office," she said. "I thought to myself that with the other 17 running, they were all well-intentioned. They all had their own visions. But mine was to continue what has been started. People who know me know that I'm not looking to shake up the world but only to continue the pathway that my husband devoted so much of his life to in these past 12 years, along with his colleagues on the City Council."

Goodman pointed to construction of a professional basketball arena as having a twofold purpose. "Good, healthy construction is what the city needs," she noted. But like the other components necessary to re-create a quality city, sports attractions "draw new people to the city, and this will help revive the building industry."

As a result, the Summerlin sector could once again become a beehive of construction activity.

"You already have some very nice commercial development out there, and that will continue to grow, whether it's single-home dwellings or other developments," she said. "It will end up going right up to Red Rock."

Goodman said the key is to follow the Baltimore blueprint, "where people live in the suburbs and come into the heart of the city for quality entertainment, cultural events, sports activity and the like.

"That's what we envision."

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 newest novel, "All For Nothing," is now available. Contact him at