Downtown Project, Las Vegas
I have been talking and working with some of the people in the Vegas Tech Fund which I believe is an arm of the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. So when Fred and I were out there for a wedding we wanted to see the whole project in person. It is pretty amazing what is happening out there.
We spent the morning meeting with a few start-ups including seeing the co-working spaces. One of them is working on transportation issues for downtown. Thinking intellingently about how the community will move around in a smarter way than just cars before the area expands. More people are moving there and it was apparent that many of the young families are coming in to downtown as an activity.
My favorite area that they built is called Container Park. Container Park sits in the middle of the massive land project that will continue to grow in downtown Las Vegas. Think of other urban cities that have built water fronts like South Street Seaport. There are a few places to eat, a stage for live music and for a young kid a killer jungle gym area and slide. It is totally community oriented and has a great vibe.
Great vibes with good food, music and community is something that draws young people who are in the tech community to a city. We are seeing that in a few cities such as Austin and we can now add Las Vegas to that list.
We did a tour of Zappos which is located a few blocks from Container Park in the building which was once used for Government officials, aka city hall, a few years ago. There are 1600 people working there which mainly consists of their sales and marketing arm. The shipping facilities are located in Kentucky. The vibe is open, friendly and very much in line with how many tech businesses operate. No walls, no offices but cubicles, food and drinks for the taking, places to blow off steam and an overall sense of we are all doing this together.
The downtown tour gives you an idea of what the future will be in downtown Las Vegas a few years from now. We met with Tony and some of his leaders in this project at the end of our day. They are essentially taking the concept of a start-up and applying it to a city. Investing in companies that will change the local landscape, creating an environment that works for community, thinking about traffic patterns, bringing in grocery stores and restaurants too.
All and all impressive. I give Tony huge kudos for seeing the future and deciding to dive in and do it. There are several financially successful entrepreneurs getting behind science, education and other arenas that are going to benefit from private funding and smarts. Funding this is a real out of the box idea. I hope that they document their success including health and wellness projects that they want to take on that can eventually help other cities in need of change such as Detroit and Baltimore.
Definitely a place to watch.