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Las Vegas City Redevelopment

Las VegasWhen The Mirage, the first Megaresort, opened in 1989, it started a movement of people and construction away from downtown Las Vegas to the Las Vegas Strip. This resulted in a drop in tourism from which the downtown area is still trying to recover. A concerted effort has been made by city officials to diversify the Las Vegas economy from tourism by attracting light manufacturing, banking, and other commercial interests. The lack of any state individual or corporate income tax and very simple incorporation requirements have fostered the success of this effort. Having been late to develop an urban core of any substantial size, Las Vegas has retained very affordable real estate prices in comparison to nearby urban centers. Consequently, the city has recently enjoyed an enormous boom both in population and in tourism. However, as a New York Times series on the city reported in 2004, the median price of housing in the Las Vegas Valley is now at or above the nationwide median. The urban area has grown outward so quickly that it is beginning to run into the Bureau of Land Management holdings along its edges, increasing land values enough that medium- and high-density development is beginning to occur closer to the core. As a reflection of the city's rapid growing population, the new Chinatown of Las Vegas was constructed in the early 1990s on Spring Mountain Road.

Chinatown initially consisted of only one large shopping center complex, but the area was recently expanded for new shopping centers that contain various Asian businesses. With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, downtown Las Vegas began to suffer. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists downtown. While greatly slowing the decline, it did not stop the decline in tourism and revenue. The multi-level Neonopolis, complete with food court and theaters, was built to offer more retail and services downtown. While there have been changes in ownership and management, Neonopolis has not been able to lease all the space available. As of March 2005, the property is for sale.

Las VegasThe city purchased 61 ac (247,000 mē) of property from Union Pacific Railroad during the 1990s with the goal of creating something that would draw tourists and locals to the downtown area. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has announced plans for the Union Park Development which will include residential and office high-rises, The Lou Ruvo Alzheimer's Institute, an academic medical center, The Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a new City Hall and a possible baseball stadium. After failed negotiations with The Related Co. on the development of Union Park in October of 2005, San Diego-based Newland Communities was chosen by the city as the new development firm. The Newland contract calls for Dan Van Epp, Newland's regional vice president and former president of the Howard Hughes Corp., to oversee his company's work on Union Park. The $50-million Lou Ruvo Alzheimer's Institute designed by architect Frank Gehry is expected to break ground in August of 2006. The city council of Las Vegas has agreed on zoning changes on Fremont Street, which allows bars to be closer together duplicating efforts of similar cities, like the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. It is expected that this change will bring more tourism and business to the downtown area. In the early 2000s, some promising signs emerged for downtown Las Vegas. The city successfully lured the Internal Revenue Service to move operations from outside the city limits to a new building downtown that opened in April 2005. The IRS is expected to create a demand for additional businesses in the area, epecially in the daytime hours. Another promising sign of development has come in the form of high-rise development. A substantial increase in the number of high-rises under construction and proposed in Las Vegas began in 2003 and has continued into 2006. New Condominum and hotel high rise projects have caused the entire Las Vegas skyline to change dramatically in recent years. Many large projects are planned for downtown Las Vegas as well as the Las Vegas Strip including the largest privately financed development proposed in the United States- Project City Center. It is expected that high rise condominium development will transform the downtown area into a vibrant urban center, and change the demographics of the Las Vegas Strip by adding residential elements to tourist areas. In 2005, on a lot adjacent to the city's 61 ac (247,000 mē), the World Market Center opened. It is intended to be the nation's and possibly the world's preeminent furniture wholesale showroom and marketplace, and is meant to compete with the current furniture market capital of High Point, North Carolina. In 2004, the city partnered with Cheetah Wireless Technologies and MeshNetwork to pilot a wide area mobile broadband system. The pilot system is installed downtown, around the Fremont Street Experience.

Las Vegas Culture and attractions

Las VegasLas Vegas has no major league sports team; however, there are many sports activities in the area. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas fields Division I athletic teams and the NCAA football Las Vegas Bowl call the city home. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), just north of the city hosts NASCAR and other automotive events. Visitors and residents also have many options for boating, golf, hiking, rock climbing. The city has many parks which offer a wide range of activities. The city hosts several non-major-league sports teams: the Las Vegas Gladiators in the Arena Football League, the Las Vegas 51s, a Los Angeles Dodgers franchise in the Triple A Pacific Coast League, and the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL hockey league. However, due to the perceived risks of professional sports being played in a city with legal sports betting, none of the major professional sports leagues have ever had a team in Las Vegas, with the notable exception of the Utah Jazz' half-season schedule at the Thomas and Mack Center in 1983-84.

The possibility of relocating or adding a professional major-league team to Las Vegas is an ongoing discussion that the city government is having with several leagues. In addition, Las Vegas will host the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, marking the first time the NBA All-Star Game will be held in a non-NBA city. It will be played at the Thomas and Mack Center. The date for the All-Star game has yet to be announced. In 2005, the city hosted Arena Bowl XIX at the Thomas & Mack Center. It was the AFL's first-ever neutral-site title game. Las Vegas will host the Arena Bowl again in 2006. The city also heavily insipred the fictional city, Las Venturas, in the video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Venturas is mostly, if not fully, a replica of Las Vegas. Rumors have surfaced about the possible relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Las Vegas in the near future if Sacramento cannot build a new arena for the team. Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof also have ties to the city as they are co-owners of The Palms Hotel & Casino which would make the move more or a possibility.

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