Downtown Project began with a splash.
The brainchild of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh excited the city. It excited city officials, who praised Hsieh at every turn for his plan to pour $350 million into real estate, restaurants, bars, tech and education -- and all in the heart of the city's crumbling core.
Hsieh's idea seemed to stem from a vision to see how the urban core, a home to some of the city’s poorest residents, could flourish with an infusion of cash and youthful energy.
But it's been a bumpy ride.
Many businesses have opened but others have closed. The missions for Downtown Project and associated technology investment fund have changed. Hsieh has retreated mostly to his position as head of Zappos.com.
His longtime partner at Zappos, Fred Mossler, recently resigned at Zappos and is focusing more on Downtown Project.
No matter who is in charge, a big problem for Downtown Project, one it openly admits, is that for all the businesses Downtown Project created, there weren’t enough customers – or population density – to support them.
Now, some relief might be on the way.
Mossler, Hsieh and a host of city officials held a news conference Monday for Fremont9. Located at the southeast corner of 9th and Fremont streets, next to the Atomic tavern, this will be the first ground-up construction of residential units in downtown in many years.
The building will be five stories with 231 units. It will be built in partnership between Downtown Project Ventures and The Wolff Co., which is based in Arizona.
John Curran, real estate portfolio manager for Downtown Project Ventures, talked with KNPR's State of Nevada about the project.
"We're really excited about what this project means for downtown," Curran said, "It's going to be a major game changer."
The complex will include studio, one, two, and three bedroom apartments. Although, Curran could not say what the exact rental prices would be because the project is expected to take 14 months to fully build out.
He said Fremont9 could be just the beginning.
"The hope is that this is the first of several projects just like it that really get more people living and enjoying all that downtown has to offer," he said.
Curran said the new apartment complex is the biggest real estate investment so far for Downtown Project, and the reaction has been positive.
"We've received nothing by positive feedback," he said, "So many people have told us this is what downtown needs. This is what downtown has been lacking."
Curran said it has taken several years for the apartment complex plan to come to fruition because they wanted people to have a reason to come downtown in the first place so Downtown Project invested in small businesses like restaurants, bars and retail shops.
John Curran, real estate portfolio manager, Downtown Project Ventures,
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