Downtown Grand promises self-parking

Warning: If you want to check out the Downtown Grand Las Vegas, plan on valet parking. At least for the next two weeks. There was no self-parking on my visit Thursday. So the round-and-round driving I did searching for its parking garage was for naught.

However, CEO Seth Schorr assured me Friday that will be changed in two weeks when a garage on Casino Center Boulevard, formerly a garage leased by Binion’s, will provide safe and secure self-parking for Downtown Grand customers. “We have 700 spaces coming on line very shortly,” he said. The valet parking garage on Ogden Street has 500 spaces and asserts firmly, “No public parking.”

I drove around erratically before deciding since it was raining, valet was my smart choice. Frankly, I was horrified when the valet said there is no self-parking. “Valet parking is free,” he said cheerfully, apparently thinking I didn’t know that.

Understand, for those of us with our computers in our car trunks, self-parking is far preferable to valet parking. The fear of losing the computer containing my stories, my contacts and super secret stuff almost always pushes me to self-parking.

Access to the Downtown Grand between Ogden and Stewart streets can also be made from the north by taking Third Street and using the Triple George Grill valet, Schorr reassured me.

Fifth Street Gaming, headed by Schorr, operates Downtown Grand and owns and operates the Triple George Grill and the Mob Bar, recently moved next to the new hotel-casino.

The question I sought to answer with my visit: Does marketing to the “urban cool” mean a woman of my mature years wouldn’t be welcomed? After all, the Downtown Grand’s Oct. 27 opening was coordinated with the Life Is Beautiful festival, which is definitely a younger crowd.

“Absolutely not,” Schorr said, the day after employees had been extremely friendly to me and a friend.

Rest assured, geezerettes are welcome. I saw plenty of them at the slot machines Thursday.

I saw one sad man dozing in the corner in front of a slot machine with what looked like his worldly possessions at his feet. There were people in wheelchairs. And tragically, right outside the Grand, I saw a wheelchair and a stretch limo that had collided, injuring the person who had been in the wheelchair.

Schorr hopes to grow the downtown market by adding a younger customer base, including the hip and groovy techies. But the downtown crowd is also a welcome fit to this eclectic property which replaced the tired Lady Luck with a $100 million remodel.

I went looking for the urban chic. While I saw nary a one gambling, I found one man in the Art Lounge, who pounded away at his computer for at least a couple of hours, since I saw him when I was coming and going. He was taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi, no password required.

A group of about 20 cool kids had come over from Zappos to have lunch at the Downtown Grand’s coffee shop.

The rest of the daytime crowd was pretty much the same folks you’d see in any downtown casino at lunch.

Schorr described the property as “industrial chic,” combining a factory warehouse feel with old Vegas’ crystal chandeliers and mandatory garish carpeting. The mix reflects the customer base Schorr seeks.

I liked the many doorways opening up to the nearby streets, which invite people to leave the casino and walk downtown. Perhaps the Grand will draw Mob Museum and Fremont Street customers.

Let’s hope the Downtown Grand becomes profitable, unlike The Cosmopolitan on the Strip.

When it opened in December 2010, it also targeted a youthful market. The Cosmopolitan has yet to make a profit, despite having the nicest self-parking in Las Vegas.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at or call her at 702-383-0275.

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