A food truck park planned for the Las Vegas Arts District has given heartburn to some in the downtown neighborhood.
The owners of a vacant lot just south of Casino Center Drive and Charleston Boulevard received Planning Commission approval in December to convert the property for use by up to 10 food trucks.
The commission voted 4-2 in favor of the project, with City Council expected to hear the matter at its Jan. 20 meeting.
Proponents say it will bring new dining options and customers to the area while some neighbors expressed concern over issues such as litter and aesthetics.
Metroplex Realty President Paul Murad, who represents the property owners, told State of Nevada that the food truck park would be a good fit for the neighborhood. He said a lot of the trucks have an active social media marketing campaign that brings hundreds of customers to them.
“We wanted to bring that social media marketing of the trucks for their own benefit, and then of course, for the benefit of other trucks and then other businesses that are all throughout the Arts District,” he said.
Murad said that objections came from those fearing competition. He also said opponents by-passed the process by appealing directly to City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz and had her withdraw the item.
Diaz, who represents the Arts District, said she is hearing from stakeholders before making a final decision on the proposal.
One of the problems those opposed to the food truck park have is with sanitation.
Murad said because the food trucks would serve the drive-through and delivery markets with no on-site dining during the pandemic bathroom facilities are not needed.
“As far as the sanitation, the way this was designed was specifically for the pandemic times. It was designed so that people would come, get their food and then take it to their office, if they’re working nearby, or take it to their home, if they’re living nearby,” he said.
It is actually that set up that concerns some people in the Arts District. Abby Stroot is the board president for 18b Arts District Association.
She said she is concerned that the food truck park won't bring much-needed foot traffic.
“One of my major concerns with this project was that it doesn’t necessarily promote walking traffic, which is what would benefit a lot of the other businesses,” she said.
Stroot said there might be evidence from other cities where food truck parks already exist that shows they do drive more foot traffic, and that might change some minds.
Her group does not have a formal stance on the project, but she said there is a lot of interest in the project. Stroot said businesses have had to make major changes because of the pandemic, which is why many just don't want to see any more competition.
“I think that looking at it from that perspective a lot of the restaurants in the area do feel like they’ve had to work extra hard right now to adapt their business to the changing times and the state mandates," she said, "I think a lot of the restaurants and bars in the area do see this as competition. That it’s basically taking away that business that existing restaurants could have had.”
She said having a business and keeping it open right now is extremely difficult. In fact, Stroot is closing her own business because it relied so heavily on the live entertainment industry, which is almost completely closed right now.
Supporters of the food truck park see it as filling a need in the Arts District.
Nichols Spindel is one of those supporters. He's the creator of the Where's the Food Truck website and app.
“We think it’s a good idea because something like this doesn’t already exist in Vegas. It’s a great opportunity for these food truck operators to have a permanent or semi-permanent location to get their product out to the customers,” he said.
Spindel said other cities have food truck parks, and they are a great way to drive community involvement.
“What we find is food truck owners are like any other small business operator. They’re really proud of what they do. They want to be part of the community. They’re really active members of the community,” he said.
He also addressed concerns about garbage, which is another issue residents and business owners in the Arts District have.
“What we find and what a lot of the food truck parks and lots see is that these guys leave the area cleaner and in better condition than when they arrive,” he said.
Spindel said food truck operators rely on being able to return to certain areas and making sure those areas are well-maintained means they'll have no issues returning to the property.
In addition, Murad said the property owner already put a dumpster on the lot.
Las Vegas City Council postponed acting on the matter at its Jan. 20 meeting as is expected to address it in February.
Paul Murad, president, Metroplex Realty; Nicholas Spindel, creator, Where's the Food Truck; Abby Stroot, board president, 18b Arts District Association
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