These Three Development Projects Could Transform Downtown Las Vegas

If you build it, will they come? Las Vegas is hoping that “Field of Dreams” mantra holds true for its bustling Downtown, the historic heart and central business district of the metropolis, which has a number of development projects in the works. The city is aiming to transform the neighborhood, located just north of the Las Vegas Strip, into a more desirable destination for residents, businesses and tourists.

“[We are] working on a new master plan, [which] will focus on redevelopment, sustainability, transportation and how we make vacant parcels developable and harmonious with their surroundings,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman told FN. “It will help Las Vegas achieve the desired economic, social and cultural quality of life for the next 30 years.”

Here is a peek at three projects poised to change Sin City’s Downtown district, including a retro-inspired hotel-casino, a growing arts hub and a new business gathering place.


A high-concept resort is rising in Vegas, but its home is not on the Strip. Instead, developers Derek and Greg Stevens are building the new Circa Resort & Casino in the heart of Downtown, at 18 Fremont St.

The brothers also own Golden Gate Hotel & Casino on Fremont, and they remodeled the former Fitzgeralds Casino and Hotel in 2012, renaming it the D Las Vegas. They are taking from the past and looking to the future for their latest venture.

“We felt there was unmet demand for fun in Las Vegas,” Derek Stevens said in a statement.

Spanning 1.25 million square feet with 777 rooms and suites, the Circa will mix a vintage Vegas experience with cutting-edge technology. For instance, in the lobby, guests will be greeted by the famed Vegas Vickie kicking cowgirl neon sign. Elsewhere in the casino, they’ll find an innovative multilevel stadium-style sportsbook equipped with the biggest screen in sportsbook history.

And for those who love to catch the game and some rays, Circa will feature a spectacular multitiered pool amphitheater with its own massive high-def screen.

Other amenities in the resort will include a variety of restaurants, a two-level casino and the longest outdoor bar at the Fremont Street Experience.

According to the company, construction is on pace for a grand opening in December 2020.

Circa Resort Casino Las Vegas Pool Amphitheater
The Circa Resort & Casino will feature a multitiered pool amphitheater.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Circa

Symphony Park

Just west of Circa, the 61-acre Symphony Park development project is finally undergoing major changes. The former brownfield site — which was previously owned by the Union Pacific Railroad before the city claimed it through a land swap — is destined to be a model of urban planning. It is already home to The Smith Center for Performing Arts, Discovery Children’s Museum and the Cleveland Clinic for Brain Health. But all were completed 2012, and since then, the rest of the property has remained dormant due to the recession. Until now.

Two multi-housing projects are underway along City Parkway, which will add a total of 600 residential units to the area upon completion in late 2020 or early 2021. Meanwhile, the city is constructing two parking structures to the east and west of The Smith Center, set to be finished by Q4 of this year.

Plus, Dallas-based developer Jackson-Shaw is building a 400-key AC Marriott hotel at the corner of Grand Central Parkway and Symphony Park Avenue. It’s slated to open in fall 2021 and will serve as a convention hotel for the World Market Center across the street.

Within all of those structures, the city has mandated a retail component.

“One of the goals in Symphony Park is to activate the ground level and enhance the walkability of the area,” said Jason Thompson, deputy director of the Las Vegas Economic and Urban Development Department. “Between all of [these projects], we’re looking at close to 60,000 square feet of retail, and that doesn’t include the remaining parcels in Symphony Park.”

Indeed, at least seven additional lots on the site are still to be developed, with plans for more residential, mixed-use space and medical offices. The Nevada Art Museum has also reserved a spot for its first location and is in the midst of fundraising to support construction.

In addition, developer Derek Stevens (of the Circa Resort) has purchased a sizable plot in the northern corner, where he plans to build his next destination casino.

The Smith Center Performing Arts Las Vegas
The Smith Center for Performing Arts in Las Vegas hosts everything from opera to rock concerts.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Steve Hall/The Smith Center

Expo at World Market Center

Just west of Symphony Park, Las Vegas is hoping to entice convention-goers to the Downtown area with a major expansion project at its World Market Center, owned and operated by International Market Centers (IMC). The complex, which already encompasses three buildings, is adding a 315,000-square-foot exhibition center at the corner of Grand Central Parkway and Symphony Park Avenue.

IMC CEO Robert Maricich said the company is making the $90 million investment to create more location opportunities for trade shows and corporate events, an industry that generates about $58.8 billion to the Nevada economy, according to the mayor’s office.

“This new Expo Center will address demand for modern convention trade show space that currently is limited in the downtown area,” Maricich said in a statement. The building will boast roughly 195,000 square feet of exhibit space, divided between two halls. It also will feature an expansive lobby area that will serve as the registration area for events throughout the center. The Expo is slated to open in summer 2020, in time for the semiannual Las Vegas Market gift and home decor show.

Expo World Market Center Las Vegas
A rendering of the new Expo at World Market Center in Las Vegas.
CREDIT: Courtesy of WMC

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