Downtown morphing on the residential front

Downtown Las Vegas businesses are booming from the Fremont East Entertainment District to the 18b Arts District and beyond. Restaurants, entertainment venues, remodeled hotels, grocery stores and residential buildings are among the area’s newest developments, with more of these property types in the works.

“Downtown is changing, and it’s a dramatic change,” said Julie Quisenberry, city of Las Vegas real estate specialist. “If you haven’t been downtown in awhile, I encourage you to check it out.”

Quisenberry knows a thing or two about properties downtown. She heads the city’s Retail Downtown Las Vegas program under its Redevelopment Agency, which connects brokers, developers, property owners and those interested in opening businesses in the area.

Quisenberry delivered a retail update regarding downtown during the Las Vegas Commercial Marketing Group’s June 13 meeting.

Residential areas downtown is a topic on which Quisenberry placed emphasis during her presentation.

“There is very little residential property available downtown,” Quisenberry said. “With Zappos moving (to the area), they anticipate 2,000 of their employees will live and work downtown.”

Residential high-rise buildings, such as the Ogden, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. North, and the Allure, 200 W. Sahara Ave., have little trouble selling units to people, Quisenberry said. She noted, however, that those moving downtown are also moving to a different type of lifestyle, opting for mid-rise buildings.

“At one time, people were paying much, much higher prices for land and had to purchase high-rise (units),” Quisenberry said. “They couldn’t get a return on their investment if they purchased a mid-rise unit. Now, mid-rise is a for-rent product, which everyone wants. (Downtown) is becoming a place for young professionals, and they’re moving toward that urban-style city living in mid-rises.”

On the retail and development front, Quisenberry cited the new Las Vegas City Hall on Main Street and noted some of the nearby projects taking shape, including in the Fremont East Entertainment District.

“We have a visual improvement program with a lot of the Fremont East area,” Quisenberry said. “With properties down there, they might be old retail use changing to a bar or entertainment use.”

One of these properties is the Commonwealth, under construction at the corner of Fremont and Sixth streets. The venue is expected to include a rooftop bar and pub in the former location of a Hollywood Fashion retail store. Commonwealth will be the newest addition to a string of bars in the district, including Insert Coin(s), Beauty Bar and the Downtown Cocktail Room, among others.

Farther down the street is Flightlinez, the zipline that runs along the Fremont Street Experience. Quisenberry said the attraction is expected to become a permanent fixture in the area and extend two blocks to Main Street. Nearby hotels with notable expansions and renovations, such as the Golden Nugget, the Golden Gate and the D, are some of the properties catapulting the redevelopment downtown, she said.

Pete Duignan, Commercial Marketing Group member who attended the meeting, learned about downtown’s progress though Quisenberry’s presentation. As a commercial and residential real estate agent, Duignan said he was pleased to hear about the opportunities for redevelopment in both sectors.

“I’m glad to hear that downtown is finally getting its act together,” Duignan said. “I’ve been in this town 15 or 16 years, and it’s great to see it grow the way it is.”

With Zappos employees moving downtown, Quisenberry said the city is taking opportunities to include more food establishments and grocery stores in the area. Bank of America, 300 S. Fourth St., is slated to include 11,000 square feet of retail space, and the ground floor of the Lewis Avenue Parking Garage, 321 Casino Center Blvd., across from the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse, is set to include dining establishments such as Anthony’s Pizza, Moxie Java coffee shop and a Tasti D-Lite frozen yogurt spot.

Grocery stores, Quisenberry said, are some of the most talked-about fixtures needed downtown. She said that in addition to Resnicks Grocery on the ground floor of Soho Lofts, 900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, residents can anticipate other grocery stores in the area. White Cross Drugs at the corner of Las Vegas and Oakey boulevards is transitioning into White Cross Market, slated to open this summer. A Dollar General Market is expected to open on the west side at Martin Luther King and Lake Mead boulevards, and Quisenberry anticipates a type of “loft-scale” grocery store to open eventually in Symphony Park.

Quisenberry said the city is working with Zappos employees to open grocery stores in residential areas downtown. She said that in addition to filling the need for these properties, they also contribute to other aspects of the area.

“Most grocery stores want to know about the residents downtown,” Quisenberry said. “You have to look at if you’re catering to office workers, tourists or some other (demographic) and decide if you’re going to have a neighborhood grocery market or something like an upscale Whole Foods. It’s all really going to depend on resident density.”

For more information on Retail Downtown Las Vegas, call 229-6100 or visit lvrda.org.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-4686.

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