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Downtown Project: How Tony Shieh plans to revitalize Las Vegas (and what it can tell us about other urban cores)

from: http://downtownproject.com

We’ve allocated $350 million to aid in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. We’re investing $200 million in real estate, $50 million in small businesses, $50 million in education, and $50 million in tech startups through the VegasTech Fund.

We aim to:


Community development is more about the people than real estate, so physical spaces should reflect the community’s values. By catalyzing community efforts, we hope to inspire people to follow their passions. And by doing so, we’re helping to build the most community-focused large city in the world…in the city where you would least expect it.


When people live closely with one another, the opportunities to interact serendipitously increase which increases the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and improves productivity.


Urban residential density of at least 100 people per acre combined with ground-level gathering places such as cafes, interesting small businesses, and public spaces increases economic output and happiness.


We’re working with communities including technology, fashion, music, art, and more. Bringing together passionate people with shared interests creates collaboration, innovation, opportunities to share resources, and accelerates learning.


Most urban revitalization efforts are centered in cities with vacant, crumbling buildings. Our Downtown doesn’t have those. To quickly create spaces for new businesses here requires innovative thinking, so we’re using repurposed shipping containers as places for entrepreneurs to follow their passions.



To make those goals happen, we’re focusing on:


At the very heart of a great city is an active and thriving art, music, and creative culture. As a global entertainment capital Las Vegas has more artists per capita than New York but lacks the connectedness that allows artists of all types to follow their personal passions. We aim to be a part of changing that.

By investing in events like First Friday, spaces for creative people to connect, and projects and organizations that help people follow their passion, we aim to make the arts a core part of our community.

We’re inspired by the great work of organizations like Sprout Fund that help empower creative people to do amazing things. We are inspired by the thriving music culture of cities like Austin, Texas where everyone has the opportunity to follow their musical passions and the community has the opportunity to experience new things.


The foundation of our mission is to help to create the most community-focused large city in the world. Las Vegas is home to as many creative thinkers as New York but often lacks the call and spaces that encourage people to gather around common passions.

Through deliberate seeding of community gatherings, we’re helping to provide the spaces and reasons for people to come together and inspire each other to follow their passions. We’re initially focused on communities like:

  • Technology
  • Fashion
  • Photography
  • Art
  • Music

Often communities need space to gather for events and sometimes as a space to work. Our goal to create the coworking capital of the world aims to empower communities of passionate people to build spaces that allow them to follow their passions.


Education is the bedrock on which a truly great city is built. We believe a rock-solid education system builds community by helping intelligent people to do amazing things. It creates opportunities for people to explore new ideas and develop new passions.

For our city to thrive, families must not only aspire to live here but also to educate their children here. Investment in public and private education programs is critical to the community as a whole.

For us, that means investing in the Clark County School District through our partnership with Teach for America, by exploring innovative ideas and techniques in teaching, and in our planned investment in a private or charter school in Downtown Las Vegas.


We are helping to build a community-focused, dense urban core made up of high-density residential and a multitude of spaces to gather, most of them powered by passionate entrepreneurs. We believe that most successful entrepreneurs are people who are passionate about their craft and believe in building community.

We believe that people shouldn’t have to wait forty years to retire and follow their passion. Our goal is to support entrepreneurs who meet a basic set of criteria:

  • Are you passionate about the idea?
  • Are you capable of executing it?
  • Does it help build community?
  • Is it sustainable?
  • Unique or the best–what makes your business unique or the best at what you do?
  • Story worth–what about your business would be worthy of a story in a major publication or national news outlet?

We aim to invest in 100-200 entrepreneurs who meet that criteria, build programs to help them avoid many of the basic mistakes new entrepreneurs make, and, combined with our urban development plans, help them to build the perfect space to follow their passion.


A vibrant technology and startup community creates opportunities for all types of people, not only technologists, to rapidly follow their passions and tackle interesting problems. The VegasTech community is a collaborative, supportive group of creative technologists, designers, and entrepreneurs.

A balance of startup and mature technology companies in a city creates a cycle that fuels the spirit of innovation, fuels the spirits of the companies, and fuels the spirits of those who are able to find a culture-match for themselves in a workplace that they love.

We believe in investing in programs, entrepreneurs, and spaces (such as /usr/lib) that help accelerate learning, encourage collaboration, and elevate Las Vegas as a renowned startup hub. We believe that you can change the world with a laptop.


Inspired by the book Triumph of the City and thinkers like Richard Florida, we aim to create a dense urban core with residential density of at least 100 people per acre and ample ground level spaces to gather. Interlaced in every project we envision is a respect for the environment, opportunities to connect with nature, and connectivity infrastructure that reduces the need to use a car.

Our primary goal is to help to create an environment that encourages serendipity…the opportunity to unexpectedly collide with people from different backgrounds. Serendipity encourages people to connect with each other, exchange ideas, and accelerates learning. This means that a community must remain accessible to people from all economic backgrounds.

A truly great city must not only be financially sustainable, but also environmentally sustainable. With that in mind, we’re planning green roofs, urban gardens and parks to enrich the lives of the passionate people who call Downtown home.

Connectivity is key to sustaining a vibrant community, so we’re partnering with the Regional Transportation Commission and others to make it easier to walk, bike, and take public transit—building a community where people can live, work, and play without needing a car.

A few of our ideas:

  • Parks with cafes and other businesses. This approach helps to offset the cost of maintaining a park and encourages more people to visit the space.
  • Adaptable buildings. Our plans to invest in small businesses and other community spaces are based on the community’s needs as they exist today. We aim to design buildings and spaces that can easily adapt as those needs evolve.
  • Residential. Not only do we aim to create dense residential that’s accessible to all types of people but we intend to design spaces that encourage communities to gather in central spaces, green spaces, and more.


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