The Howard Hughes Corp. unveiled more information on the expansion of Downtown Summerlin at a July 31 presentation at Las Ventanas, 10401 W. Charleston Blvd.
Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for the master-planned community of Summerlin and Hughes Corp., said the economic plunge of 2008, which left the steel skeleton of the shopping destination near the 215 Beltway and West Charleston Boulevard sitting stagnant for so long, turned out to be a good thing — it allowed them to revisit the plans and update them.
“The fact that we didn’t build an enclosed mall we’d planned about 10 years ago means now we had the chance to build a new, state-of-the-art urbanist center,” he said. “A lot of cities have downtowns, real downtowns … today, the thought is we need to build urban nodes — small downtown areas in the suburbs where people live. And it’s not about the cars. The streets are one lane in each direction, (with) pockets for parallel parking and extra-wide thoroughfares, and that creates opportunity. People understand that you’re supposed to get out of your car, walk around and enjoy it.”
Warden said Downtown Summerlin has “half a dozen retailers coming in that we just can’t talk about yet; many of them are first to market and are going to make huge splashes when they come in. We’re excited to talk about them; we just can’t talk about them yet.”
What he said he could say was that new enterprises include Lucky Brand and restaurants Shake Shack and Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, both of which already have other Las Vegas locations.
Remember the ice skating rink at Downtown Summerlin? It was such a success, the shopping destination plans to revisit it this winter. In fact, that space will be turned into a community gathering spot for now, according to Andrew Ciarrocchi, senior general manager of Downtown Summerlin, 1980 Festival Plaza Drive.
“That area was planned to be a third department store someday,” he said. “We don’t have a third department store; we’re still working on that. Putting that aside, we didn’t want to look at a gravel lot, so that space is becoming a community park. It’ll add another gathering place where folks can relax.”
Banana Republic will be joining the shopping destination soon. It is under construction and expected to open for the holidays. Besides Lucky Brand, he said other clothing stores, still unnamed, were on the horizon.
“I love seeing the transition of new things coming in,” Ciarrocchi said. “I think the food has been such a success, and we’re seeing a lot of variety there.”
He said that Public School 702 fills out the dining arroyo, adding a new dimension to what’s offered.
“Downtown Summerlin has … almost 200 more acres yet to go,” Warden said, pulling up an aerial map with areas highlighted in different colors. “It’s going to be phenomenal, not a few more buildings, but a true downtown, made from scratch.”
He categorized them as high-density urban residential neighborhoods, with 80 to 100 units per acre featuring green space and office space.
The dark brown area on the map showed where high-rises — no higher than the neighboring Red Rock Resort — are planned, he said, as well as mid-rise concepts sprinkled in. Office space would also be part of that mix. Warden said to expect a regional transportation center nearby.
“You’ll come out the door of one of these homes, and across the street, you’ll see maybe an urban grocery store or a dry cleaners or a bakery or a cafe,” Warden said. “The kind of retail that will be on these streets is neighborhood services retail.”
He said it would appeal to a wide variety of people, such as aging baby boomers looking to forgo tending lawns and who want to be free to travel.
“This type of living, with 40, 60, 80 units per acre, this is excellent for resource management,” Warden said. “The (Southern Nevada Water Authority) is very interested in it because these urban densities wind up saving tremendous amounts of water over even what’s used in our desert landscaped regular suburban communities. It uses a lot less water per capita.”
Instead of acres of parking lots, he said the plans call for units to surround parking garages — called the wrap concept — with the roofs of the parking structures becoming amenities such as parks, pools, shaded areas and community space.
“It looks like a park, but it’s really the top of a parking garage — a very elegant solution,” Warden said. “These are just some of the concepts that are out there these days.”
“As our Distressed Communities Index demonstrates, geography matters, particularly for the millions of Americans who continue to find a shortage of good jobs, stagnant wages and few opportunities in their own backyards. While Summerlin’s economy has fared better than other parts of the Las Vegas area since the Great Recession, it’s important to emphasize that local economies are interconnected,” said Steve Glickman, a Georgetown University professor who teaches economic diplomacy and international trade and is the co-founder of the Economic Innovation Group. “Opportunity is not a zero-sum game. Summerlin’s economy has been boosted by recent investment in Downtown Summerlin, which creates the right signals that the area is rebounding. Incentivizing investment to flow to more distressed communities, like downtown Las Vegas, will spot the type of entrepreneurship that will benefit the broader Las Vegas area.”
The timeline of Summerlin is measured in decades, Warden said, not years.
“With that in mind, you know we’re going to run into some economic ups and down, and indeed we have,” he said. “Economic conditions tend to speed up or slow down development, but in a most generic sense, what we’re looking at with this Downtown Summerlin development is easily 10 to perhaps even 15 more years until it’s done. But you will see some of that development starting within two years.”
Visit downtownsummerlin.com or summerlin.com.
— To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-387-2949.