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Making Things Great When You're Downtown

Major cities - including Las Vegas – are forever wondering how they can rejuvenate their run-down urban cores.

With us is Ryan Gravel, he’s an Atlanta-based urban planner who wrote the 2016 book, “Where We Want To Live.”

He’s been in Las Vegas for the Livin' In The City Downtown Residential Fair, which is sponsored by the City of Las Vegas.

Gravel said Las Vegas is going through the same thing as other cities. People are moving back into the urban core. He said they want an urban lifestyle with the walkability and diversity that comes with downtown areas.

He said urban revitalization is clearly happening already in Las Vegas but what the city really needs to capitalize on is the history, culture and community that makes it special already to draw in more people.

“Las Vegas has qualities and characteristics that are unique in the world," he said, "You shouldn’t ignore those things and try to be something else.”

Gravel pointed out that with technology people can live anywhere they want, which means cities are competing with each other for population.

Las Vegas has a leg up in that competition because you can't find what the city has to offer anywhere else in the world. 

He said Las Vegas should try to become the best version of itself and not try to replicate another city's success.

“Most people are looking to live in a place and work in a place that’s special," Gravel said, "It doesn’t have to be the most special place in the world.”

He does have some recommendations to make the city the best version of itself, including adding shade structures along streets in the downtown core and making it easier for people to walk around.

Gravel said that driving a car is not really a social experience but getting out of a car and walking around provides a "social benefit" for the individual and for the city as a whole by making it feel "more vibrant and alive."

He said any changes to the downtown core work best when they come from a partnership between private and public investment. Public investment for infrastructure like public transportation and sidewalks and private for housing and businesses needed to fill the streets with people. 

Ryan Gravel, urban planner

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.