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October 23, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Coming changes ‘exciting’ to Zappos chief

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Steve Marcus

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, is shown at a Zappos condo in the Ogden in downtown Las Vegas Thursday, June 7, 2012.

While being interviewed in front of an audience in the double-wide trailer that doubles as a speakers bureau at Seventh and Fremont streets, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said to expect an explosion of development along Fremont Street in the next year.

“We’ve been working for a year and a half” on many projects that are now getting ready to come to life, he added. “People don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes, but it’s exciting.”

Hsieh and others formed Downtown Project, which is committing $350 million to “community” development downtown, including money toward real estate, tech businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues and education.

Even Vegas Tech Fund, a venture capital group that Hsieh also is part of, has community on the mind. I asked the fund’s director, Andrew White, if he would invest in a company that promised a 10-fold return on investment over a year – but without providing a “return on community” or giving back to Las Vegas.

“Nope,” White replied.

The tech fund’s mission is partly due to the fact that in September 2013, 1,400 Zappos employees are moving downtown. They’ll need places to live, places for their kids to go to school, affordable restaurants, a grocery store, entertainment for themselves and their children, and on and on.

Many of those amenities are about to come online, Hsieh promised.

But where?

I’ll include some of that information in my next installment.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts complex.

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