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Downtown Plan Envisions Business Districts, Parks, Friendly Roads

Downtown’s ever-changing landscape is changing again.

The Beat Coffeehouse is closing. The Arts District is growing. And the City of Las Vegas has a new plan to lead downtown into 2045.

From the City of Las Vegas: Vision 2045 Downtown Las Vegas Master Plan

That plan includes safer roads, new business districts and more green space. 

Nate Cherry is the president of RTKL design consultancy, which helped the city shape the new master plan.

"Now, it's reaching a point of maturity where thinking collectively has tremendous opportunities for benefit for the city and really that's what the master plan is all about, getting the community as a whole thinking about what downtown could and should be in the 21st Century," Cherry told KNPR's State of Nevada.

He said that through their surveys of the community, RTKL found people wanted diversification of the economy through education, the ability to raise a family in the area with the amenities that allow for that, the ability to get around without a car, more open space and clarity in rules and regulations that govern the area.

The Vision 2045 Downtown Master Plan hinges on five goals: diversify the economy; develop "mixed-use hubs," such as Symphony Park; improve streets for cyclists and pedestrians, and add public transit options; add green space; and lastly — do these things quickly.

The idea behind "mixed-use hubs," Cherry said, is to work with the Regional Transportation Commission to establish spaces that combine transportation stations and development opportunities.

"Each one of these hubs would really become the connective point, the community gathering area of each of those neighborhoods," he said.

Cherry also said addressing the transportation from neighborhoods just outside the urban core to downtown is an important part of the effort to improve downtown because so many people who live just outside downtown work in the core area. 

Scott Roeben watches all things Las Vegas at his website He said the city's master plan is an ambitious one.

"It's like a giant wish list," he said.

Roeben said remaking downtown will take years and more than just the efforts of the city of Las Vegas and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who invested $350 million in the area with Downtown Project.

"You're going to need 10 Tony Hsiehs," Roeben said. "It really is a huge undertaking to do a lot of the things that are in the master plan."

Roeben said it is going to take money and commitment to get many of the plans off the ground and address some of the issues that have given the area its reputation — including homelessness, substance abuse and crime.  

Jesse O'Brien is the editor for, which is Vegas Seven magazine's downtown news website. 

She told KNPR's State of Nevada that projects in the Arts District are already moving forward outside of what either Downtown Project or the city of Las Vegas are doing. 

"I know that a lot of people who are not involved with Downtown Project are investing in the Arts District," she said. 

O'Brien said the Burlesque Hall of Fame is relocating from the Emergency Arts Building to a project between Main Street and First Street, just north of Charleston Boulevard. 

Cherry said it will take time and resources to implement the Downtown Master Plan.

"Moving forward, the city council and the administrating entity that runs the project would need to accomplish something significant with respect to each of those goals," he said. 

The goals include streamlined governance, catalytic projects, financial incentives, infrastructure investment, public-private partnerships and the business improvement district. 

(Editor's note: During the discussion, it was incorrectly stated that the Eclipse Theater would be the first new movie theater in the area since the Huntridge Theater closed. Theaters at Neonopolis opened in 2002 and closed in 2009.)

Nate Cherry, president, RTKL design consultancy; Jessie O'Brien, editor,,  Scott Roeben, editor,

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.