This post is part of Tech Cocktail’s overview of the Downtown Project, a $350 million fund that aims to revitalize downtown Las Vegas by funding new buildings, education, small businesses, and tech startups.
A few miles northeast of the Strip, the Downtown Project is slowly and quietly creating a lively and friendly local community and culture, in a city that almost everyone visits but no one wants to live – yet. Here’s a guide to where the locals work, hang out, and plan the future of Vegas.
New Zappos headquarters
In October 2013, Zappos will be moving its headquarters from Henderson, Nevada (a nearby suburb of Las Vegas) to downtown. The company will be leasing the old Las Vegas City Hall for $18 million and moving some of its 1,400+ Henderson employees downtown. The Downtown Project actually grew out of Zappos's search for a new headquarters; they realized they wanted to be located in a thriving community that would help attract talent and bring happiness to their employees.
With nearly 30 stories of apartments, the Ogden is home to Tony Hsieh, Zappos employees, and a variety of startups, such as Ayloo, Rumgr, TicketCake, Digital Royalty, and our very own Tech Cocktail, in addition to other community members. The Downtown Project also offers up apartments as free “crash pads” for select visitors who come to investigate the Vegas scene.
The Beat is a coffeehouse, restaurant, and all-around hangout spot where you’ll often find startups or Downtown Project employees working. I stopped by for a Tuesday trivia night, and found over 50 people packed inside testing their knowledge about music, movies, ’90s TV, and alcohol. The Beat is in the same building as Emergency Arts, a space that includes art galleries and hopes to bring together creative professionals in all different fields.
Upstairs from The Beat is usr/lib, a technology library and coworking space. Membership is only $25 per year. It’s also home to the Tech Jelly, a weekly “casual coworking” meetup from 7 pm to midnight on Thursdays. There, you might find entrepreneurs working, startups pitching, and speakers sharing their insights.
The Downtown Cocktail Room is owned by Michael and Jennifer Cornthwaite, who also own The Beat. At night, it’s a darkened lounge where Downtowners work and socialize.
As yet unbuilt, Container Park will be a large community space with a playground, a stage, restaurants, shops, and offices. To add a touch (or maybe a glob) of quirkiness, visitors will be welcomed by a giant praying mantis that breathes fire (originally a Burning Man project).
This high-rise office building currently houses about 200 Zappos employees on the sixth and seventh floors, from departments like marketing, design, A/V, and fashion. Once the new Zappos office opens up, the Downtown Project intends to turn this area into a coworking space.
Opened on September 6, Coterie is a hybrid fashion boutique/hangout space. According to owner Sarah Nisperos, the fashion-boutique half is secondary – she wants people to come hang out, have a drink or a cupcake, write on the blackboard walls, or watch a movie projected onto the floor. Right now, the historic sign above the store reads: Checks Cashed. The Downtown Project offices are located just behind Coterie.
Recently opened, Eat is a restaurant funded by the Downtown Project. It’s led by Natalie Young, a long-time chef who was about to leave Las Vegas before she got introduced to Tony Hsieh. The breakfast and lunch restaurant will feature fresh, local, “soulful” food, like tofu banh mi sandwiches and black bean veggie chili.
8th Street Apartments
This is a Downtown Project-owned residence that is currently being renovated to house tech startups.
Set to open next summer, the Inspire Theater will host different tech, fashion, and arts events. The building plans include a 140+ seat auditorium, an espresso bar, and a rooftop patio. Construction will take a while because the building team decided to preserve the original facade.
Visiting The Downtown Project? Tech Cocktail just opened an office in Las Vegas – get in touch.