A Study of Revitalization Vs. Implosion
By Monique Gaudin
On a weekend where an old casino, Fitzgeralds, can prove that it can survive as a new one, The D, could it be that the strip will finally start studying the downtown rulebook of revitalization? Of the five casinos, (Castaways, Bourbon Street, Boardwalk, Stardust & Frontier) imploded between 2006-2007, only the Boardwalk’s rubble emerges from the ashes as part of the new City Center. Partly at least, given that the Harmon Tower is slated for possible demolition. Of the other four, one is an ugly, barely built Echelon Place blots the landscape where tourism could have been thriving at the iconic Stardust, and three are vacant lots. Rounding out the desolate landscape on the North end of the strip is the unfinished, possibly soon to be torn down Fontainebleau, built on the site of the El Rancho and Algiers and the Sahara, closed now for more than a year. So the question is, with the Strip continue to eviscerate it’s history, or rebuild on it’s past modeling what they are doing downtown.
As the Strip was imploding to make way for mega resorts and greater financial gains, downtown was closing but not imploding. A resurgence of retro nostalgia, and businesses investing in the community is fueling downtown, the main engine of Las Vegas (one pun is allowed, as the town was founded in 1905 on the historic railroad land auction). As quoted by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman in the Jon Schwartz article Turning Las Vegas into Tech Utopia “It is the revitalization of the city’s core.” The Plaza and the El Cortez went retro with $30 million plus in renovations, followed by the Golden Gate in September and this weeks opening of The D. Other transformations in the works are: the Imperial Palace which will become the Quad Resort & Casino and The Lady Luck closed since 2006 is still awaiting her transition, and name change, hopefully, if all goes as planned, next year.
Downtown is embracing it’s heritage with the upcoming unveiling of the Neon Museum and the recent Mob Museum opening. The locals are celebrating the arts and culture with First Fridays, VegasStrEATS, and ongoing events at the Freemont Street Experience. And the anticipation of the new LINQ project underway, complete with the centerpiece of the project, a 500-foot tall “High Roller” observation wheel, is a sign of an economic upswing. Meanwhile, on the Strip, current landowners are still trying to find investors to fill the holes created by a greed for more money, trying to camouflage the loss of history, with a few trees and the hope that the downtown trend of renovation, will save the Sahara from following the apparent doom path of implosion.