The urban renewal effort known as the Downtown Project is going beyond improving Las Vegas for human inhabitants. It's adding upgrades for dogs.
Cathy Brooks, a transplant from San Francisco, is working on a membership-based dog park near Fremont and Eighth streets.
The idea, which still needs city approval, would cover about 5,000 square feet and offer grass, shade, water and security for downtown dogs to run and play.
Brooks said it's a logical next step for the Downtown Project's effort to make Las Vegas a more desirable place for people to live and work.
"Every neighborhood should have a dog gathering place like this. It doesn't matter what you do for a living," Brooks said.
The Downtown Project is a $350 million venture funded mostly by the personal wealth of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
The plan is to revive downtown Las Vegas from a state of vacant lots, flophouses and ragtag retail operators to a vibrant, pleasant and wealth-generating community.
To do so Hsieh is investing in real estate, technology startups, small businesses and community amenities.
The outcome, backers hope, will be a fertile economic and social ecosystem for Zappos, which is scheduled to move its corporate headquarters to the former City Hall at 300 Stewart Ave. in late 2013.
One of the Zappos community's most insistent demands is a community that accommodates dogs. Zappos workers often cite companywide survey results that showed more people wanted day care for dogs than day care for kids.
And right now there are few, if any, places downtown for people to take dogs, especially during summer when triple-digit temperatures make streets and sidewalks unsafe for animals.
"If you have got a dog you need a place to take the dog," Brooks said.
And that's why Hsieh lured Brooks, a longtime Bay Area communications consultant, to Las Vegas.
Her job is to lead the effort to develop the dog park at the corner of Fremont and Ninth streets on the site of a former burrito stand and soul food kitchen.
She said plans have been submitted to the city but haven't yet been approved. Once the proper permits are in place, construction could begin and the park could be up and running in a few months, she said.
The plan is to implement a system that allows people to buy a membership that would allow them to use the park.
In addition to a membership, the dog owners would need to verify their pets have had their shots and the canines would need to pass a socialization test.
The idea, Brooks said, would be to create a dog park where people could be confident the dogs could run loose without fighting or harming each other.
There could be classes for people whose dogs aren't socialized to learn pointers on dog handling in order to prepare their pets for the park, she said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285 .