Las Vegas downtown is okay, that's about the best way to describe it and still be respectful. The Fremont Street Experience, the very core of it, is surrounded by a string of colorful gambling establishments and that is the backbone of the area. But right outside that district things get rather spotty. The City, with the optimistic Mayor Oscar Goodman at the helm, has done a lot to get new development to come there and some success is evident. The road ahead is still long and winding, though.
Union Park is supposed to transform downtown in a big way. And it likely will. It's a 61-acre parcel of land southwest from downtown, a large vacant lot currently considered more an eyesore than anything else. The City has burned plenty of midnight oil to get something meaningful started there, yet so far steady success has been elusive.
A major step in the right direction saw daylight the other day when a ground-breaking for the beginning of infrastructure construction there was observed by local luminaries. Although infrastructure assembly is much less glamorous than kicking off the building of a high-rise luxury condominium tower, the City of Las Vegas and its development partner Newland Communities were really happy to be around to witness it. It meant progress. Isn't it true that every little bit counts.
The current blueprint for the site includes The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute designed by Frank Ghery which is already under construction, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a Charlie Palmer's boutique hotel and restaurant, another hotel with a surgical training facility, obviously several buildings with condos and retail and office space and one more hotel with a casino. Some like to call the whole package a "city within a city". And why not? It obviously has a lot of variety going for it.
Once it gets built up it'll definitely change the flavor of downtown for much better.