10 Sep Zappos is reshaping downtown Las Vegas
Zappos employees will take six weeks to completely move into the company’s new downtown headquarters, the former City Hall the company has spent millions of dollars renovating.
Some 200 employees who already worked downtown, in a building at 3rd Street and Bridger Avenue, moved in over the weekend, said Zach Ware of Zappos. The remaining 1,300 or so will fill the building over the next six weeks.
With the influx of employees — for nine years they have worked in Henderson in an office complex at Green Valley Parkway and the 215 Beltway — downtown Las Vegas is going to be seeing and feeling quite a bit of change.
Even early this morning, The Beat coffeehouse at 6th and Fremont streets was full of new faces, some of them Zappos workers.
That is only the beginning.
A 3 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the headquarters today heralds the start of a new look downtown. Everyone has an opinion about whether that look will add a shine or cause headaches if the city isn’t ready for it. Here’s our take:
While Zappos has top-notch on-site benefits for its employees, including a fairly lavish cafe and drinks if you want them, workers are bound to want to see “what’s out there” once in a while for lunch or happy hour.
So expect downtown bars and restaurants to see a boost in business.
Of course, downtown carries a decades-old stigma as an unsavory place. The city’s efforts to stimulate the downtown economy over the years have come in fits and starts. Only Zappos’ announced move and the creation of the Downtown Project redevelopment agency, whose partners include Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, has so far brought significant change.
We’ll see soon enough if those redevelopment efforts will be enough to overcome downtown’s reputation.
Zappos is bringing in 1,500 employees. Downtown Grand, formerly the Lady Luck, will have another 800 over the next two months.
Both businesses operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so those employees’ commutes will come in waves. And few live downtown — the fact is, there isn’t a lot of residential housing for them to occupy.
So will we see gridlock downtown?
The city’s line has been, no problem: Downtown already handles thousands of state, county and city workers, so no one foresees much of an issue.
Downtown Project, meanwhile, is working on a multi-modal traffic system — bicycles, electric cars and more — which has the promise of alleviating the need for a car. A test version of the system will be online next year.
In addition, an enormous and enormously expensive highway project known as Project Neon — estimates are $1.3 billion to $1.8 billion — is supposed to make travel to and from the area easier. Some of the project involves the creation of improved on- and off-ramps at Charleston Boulevard.
But with owners of property targeted to be taken by eminent domain fighting for every penny they can eke from the state, the project’s true costs could go higher. Plus, it will take years to complete, so don’t look there for traffic help any time soon.