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Walkability key to downtown Las Vegas growth, developers say

Two Las Vegas developers said they’re encouraged by the recent growth in downtown Las Vegas, adding that there’s several years’ worth of projects still possible.

Cherry Development CEO Sam Cherry and Northcap Cos. CEO John Tippins said dozens of recently completed projects highlight the area’s continued expansion while encouraging more people to live, work and shop downtown.

The real estate executives also emphasized walkability and connectivity as integral to downtown Las Vegas’ growth, during an hourlong event Thursday at The Orleans by NAIOP Southern Nevada, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

“It’s been described to me like Nashville, and it is not stopping,” Tippins said. “If you look at what happened in the last 10 years and think about the next 10 years, I think we’re gonna get to these high-rise questions, but the rents are getting to the high-rise market.”

Recent success in the Arts District is particularly heartening, Tippins said. The area has added more businesses, following the pandemic, such as the recently opened English Hotel on the corner of Main Street and Coolidge Avenue.

“You’ll see people coming from Howard Hughes, from Downtown Summerlin, to have their meetings there,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you 10 years ago that you saw people coming downtown to have their power lunches.”

Tippins and Cherry said they don’t expect demand to let up. Tippins, whose company portfolio includes The Ogden and Juhl, pointed to the luxury apartment complexes Auric Symphony Park and its neighbor Parc Haven, which are almost fully leased about a year after opening.

Cherry said its tenants run the gamut of retirees, career professionals and people with freelance or part-time work. But they all share an interest in what’s offered downtown.

“I think it’s the overall excitement of downtown, the walkability. They come together with one understanding of living in an urban environment and what it has to offer them and the amenities of it,” he said about tenants at Share Downtown, a 63-unit apartment building with monthly rents between $1,200 and $1,300.

Cherry Development’s portfolio includes Share Downtown and the two Las Vegas condo towers Soho Lofts and Newport Lofts as well as an under-construction building at 11th Street and Stewart Avenue.

‘Walking 10 blocks’

Walkability is a key part of a company’s success downtown, according to Seth Schorr, CEO of Downtown Grand’s parent company Fifth Street Gaming.

He told the Review-Journal that past success may have been hampered by not having enough people and projects.

But there’s now a plan to improve pedestrian access throughout downtown. For instance, the city of Las Vegas and the Regional Transportation Commission announced plans to improve the pedestrian mall area and add new safety features between Ogden Avenue and Fremont Street. The $4.5 million project would extend a natural walking path to commercial activity on Ogden, among other updates. (The pedestrian mall is expected to reopen by New Year’s Eve.)

“It’s still not completely there. … If you’re in the Arts District, you might not walk to Fremont Street,” Schorr said. “If you’re in New York City, you feel very comfortable walking 10 blocks because there’s always something open. Downtown Las Vegas has gotten to be more like that, and the more we grow, the more critical mass just connects all the different areas and creates a more robust, walkable downtown.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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