What’s Up Downtown – July 2015

What’s Up Downtown – July 2015


In mid-June six teams that submitted proposals for consideration in Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2) Las Vegas, a global economic development challenge, were awarded a total of $800,000 in cash prizes following a vote by the Las Vegas city council.  The winning teams were recommended by a volunteer selection committee of seven well respected business and community leaders who reviewed the plans and heard presentations by the participating teams. Representing the selection committee at city council with its recommendations were Don Snyder, presidential advisor, UNLV; and Jason Mendenhall, executive vice president, Cloud, Switch SUPERNAP.

Other selection panel members include Tina Quigley, general manager, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada; Curtis Myles, president and CEO, Las Vegas Monorail Company; Jonas Peterson, president and CEO, Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance; Rich Worthington, president, The Molasky Companies; and Betsy Fretwell, manager, city of Las Vegas.

Also on hand for the announcement was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams.  The competition was federally funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

A first place cash prize of $500,000 was awarded to “Build a Better Las Vegas,” a local multi-disciplinary team of professionals that developed a proposal to create an Unmanned Aerial & Robotics Resource Center at Cashman Center. Members of the winning team include Brandon Wiegand, Zachary Conine, Michael Russell, Sallie Doebler and Curt Carlson.

A second place cash prize of $100,000 was awarded to “Strain/Stalk,” a team led by local architect Eric Strain and community developer Arnold Stalk for their plan to develop a mixed-use Mid-Strip Main Street project. A third place cash prize of $75,000 was awarded to team Gensler, a global integrated architecture and design firm with offices in Las Vegas, which developed a proposal for Cashman Center as a geographic center for sustainability that will attract and establish sustainable businesses. A fourth place cash prize of $50,000 was awarded to Don Alejandro’s Texan Inc, Villa Latina led by local businessman Alejandro Alvarez to create a multi-cultural center focusing on the Hispanic community at Cashman Center.

In a tie for fourth place, a second cash prize of $50,000 was also awarded to Every Neighborhood Needs an Architect, a team led by UNLV visiting professor of architecture, Mark Roddy, and UNLV assistant professor architecture, Joshua Vermillion, whose plan includes a prototype to demonstrate how blighted properties can be reimagined in the city’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) 2. And finally, a fifth place cash prize of $25,000 was awarded to HERServices led by Las Vegas businesswoman Diane Hale to establish a “Las Vegas Green Sustainable District” also within the city’s RDA.

SC2 is a prestigious international prize competition awarded in 2012 to three U.S. cities:  Las Vegas, Nevada; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Hartford, Connecticut.   In Las Vegas, winning plans were required to match the city’s needs, offer a feasible roadmap toward implementation, and represent innovative perspectives on economic development.

For more information on the Las Vegas Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge, please visit https://lasvegas.sc2prize.com.

Image: Rendering of First Place Winning Proposal/Courtesy of SH Architecture

  • Dayvid Figler and Rae Lathrop

    DF: Downtown was great as a kid and it is even greater as an adult. I love all of downtown’s hidden gems, its vibrancy, history and sense of connection. Rae is relatively newer to Las Vegas, but just as passionate about downtown. Downtown lends itself to the shared experience, and as a couple we both love seeing this part of the city through each other's eyes. Photo: Lucky Wenzel


  • Rob Ponte

    Some of the best nights I’ve experienced started out with no plan other than walking around to check out what’s going on. The great thing about having so many bars and restaurants downtown is the ability to move around if you’re not feeling the vibe in one place. There are plenty of options just outside the door. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Brandon Wiegand

    The downtown Las Vegas of today has much to attract residents - a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, growing diversity of businesses, and major centers of art and culture. Plus, living downtown I am easily within walking or biking distance of it all. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Hank Gordon, Chairman of Laurich Properties

    It is always a pleasure to deal with the city of Las Vegas’ economic development department. The staff is really interested in helping create a positive business environment to work with.

  • Jonathan Jenkins, Founder & CEO of OrderWithMe

    As our company continues its rapid growth, we quickly realized the need to set up a formal U.S. headquarters. We explored multiple cities and were about to make the move to San Francisco, and then we heard about the complete reinvention of downtown Las Vegas. Coming from China where things are booming and growing, we love that downtown Vegas now has a similar vibe of energy and change. Not only is there an exciting tech community here and much lower costs than the Bay Area, but we love the fact that almost every industry group brings their conventions to our front door once a year.

  • Andy Hsieh, Owner of Lux Delux

    We love the vibrancy and energy of Las Vegas, and downtown is at the heart of it all. That's why we've launched our mobile platform with a focus on downtown. This is an exciting time in Las Vegas history, where community, commerce and technology are all converging at once. Downtown is our city's hidden gem.

  • Ramesh Srinivasan, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Partnerships of SocialWellth

    We chose to relocate from the suburbs to downtown for several reasons. Our brand image and that of downtown’s mesh perfectly. The new downtown Las Vegas reflects a more hip, startup, social media-style image. Additionally, downtown’s emerging technology corridor, anchored by Zappos, is an environment that enhances our ability to recruit the types of technical skill sets required for our continued growth and success.

  • Mark Brandenburg, President of Golden Gate

    I think downtown Las Vegas is a unique blend of intimacy and great energy. Plus, in contrast to The Strip, it’s so easy to walk around…The Golden Gate has been here for over 100 years and with all the changes going on downtown, it feels like a new era. It truly is a renaissance—the rebirth of a classic.

  • Roberto Mendoza, Co-owner of Banger Brewing

    The city has been great in helping us with the licensing and procedures necessary to start a business. There hasn't been a brewery built in the city of Las Vegas for probably 10 years. So for them it hasn't been a typical ‘cut and paste’ thing. We're something different. It was a team work process to get us opened – a lot of talk and listening on both sides. And now the city started opening up the doors for other breweries once we were up and running. Good news for us and good news for the future. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Alexandra Epstein, Executive Vice President of El Cortez Casino Hotel

    This downtown area… is emerging and where many events are happening.

  • Meghan Mossler, Owner of Stitch Factory

    The city and the department of economic development have been very helpful to us and all the other downtown business owners. It’s such a community here, and everyone asks you what you need. That kind of help launching a business is amazing and priceless.

  • Pamela Dylag, Co-owner of Velveteen Rabbit

    The city is so supportive of new businesses. Things are popping up constantly. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Marc Abelman, CFO & Co-owner of Inside Style

    Downtown is becoming very much in demand…there’s a limited supply. Run fast, don’t walk.

  • Sam Cherry, CEO of Cherry Development

    For a while, downtown was one of the only places in the valley you would see cranes when you drove around. It was nice that city government stepped up and the private sector married with the public sector to create amazing projects that filled the gap. That was very important for us.

  • Johnny Jimenez, Owner of Toy Shack of Las Vegas

    Our business is booming amid the foot traffic on Fremont Street, and we’ve started to see how tourists are falling in love with downtown as they discover it. In the past year, we’re increasingly hearing things like, ‘Wow, next time we’ll stay downtown instead of on The Strip,’ or ‘We’ve visited downtown many times, but this is the first year we’ve actually stayed in a downtown hotel.’ They like that there is more to do within a smaller walking radius.

  • Rich Worthington, President and CEO of The Molasky Group of Companies

    Historically, downtown Las Vegas has not been a top destination for many locals, but in recent years… that trend is reversing itself. Given all the recent openings and progress, there’s much to explore and experience downtown.