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Alliance wants locals to 'rediscover' downtown

1 June 2012

by Caitlin McGarry

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A group of downtown promoters wants locals to "rediscover" downtown - a downtown that's busier and brighter than in decades past.

"Unfortunately, downtown was once perceived as a place where there wasn't much going on, a place that wasn't safe, a place where parking was perceived as scarce and difficult," said Rich Worthington, president of the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance, during the campaign kickoff at the Jackie Gaughan Plaza on Sixth Street. "Downtown today is a far cry from those unfortunate perceptions, as outdated as they are."

Worthington, who is also president of the Molasky Group of Cos., cited statistics from the city's parking czar, Brandy Stanley, showing that more than 47,500 parking spaces are available downtown, many of them in privately owned hotel garages that offer validation or allow free parking. The city is also upgrading its parking meters to allow for credit card payments.

Crime in the area is also declining. Worthington referenced reports from the Metropolitan Police Department's Downtown Area Command showing an 18 percent drop in violent crime from 2010 to 2011. Property crime fell 16 percent year over year.

The "Rediscover Downtown" campaign will highlight downtown businesses on social media channels throughout the summer. The campaign culminates in Rediscover Downtown Day on Oct. 13, which will feature special events, packages and discounts for locals. More details will be announced in September.

Downtown has most recently garnered attention for new bars opening on East Fremont Street, but the neighborhood isn't just a hipster hangout. There are family-friendly offerings like the Smith Center, the Downtown3rd farmer's market, the Fremont Street Experience zipline and plenty of restaurants, in addition to the old standbys of showgirls and slot machines.

The "Rediscover Downtown" campaign will highlight all of the amenities downtown has to offer in an effort to diversify the area's customer base.

"There's been a certain number of locals coming (downtown) for years," said Alex Epstein, whose family owns the El Cortez. "There's a significantly large portion of Las Vegans that used to come downtown that don't anymore. We're encouraging those people to come downtown."

The El Cortez is a founding member of the nonprofit Downtown Las Vegas Alliance, which was born four years ago. Other leaders from the business and civic communities, including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Fifth Street Gaming CEO Seth Schorr and Soho Lofts developer Sam Cherry were also on hand to celebrate the campaign kickoff.

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