Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Map of The District at Green Valley Ranch
2240 Village Walk Drive, Henderson
Pedestrians strolling through the District at Green Valley Ranch might soon be replaced with drivers jostling for parking spots.
Owners of the Henderson mixed-use center filed plans with the city on Monday to replace the main pathway that runs between many stores with a roadway and dozens of parking spaces. The two-way street would extend from retail tenant Recreational Equipment Inc. to the Green Valley Ranch Resort, letting people drive through The District’s outdoor shopping area to the resort’s casino.
The new street would have several crosswalks and 21 parking spots on the north side of the road, with another 25 spots on the south, according to the plans. Two walkways that currently feed into the corridor would become one-way exits for cars.
Shoppers and tenants have complained about the proposal, saying it would rid The District of one of its main attractions.
The Henderson Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plans next month, said Kathy Blaha, a city government spokeswoman. The city council would probably need to approve them as well, she said.
It’s unclear why owner Vestar Development wants the change. The District’s website touts the “pedestrian-friendly main street plaza” and describes the development partly as a place where visitors can “stroll along the tree-lined main street.”
A spokesperson for Phoenix-based Vestar could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
George Kweyama, a 36-year-old Summerlin resident, said he’s been to The District only a few times to go to the nearby casino, but he parks close to Green Valley Parkway so he can meander through the pathway. He pointed out that people can walk around The District and not worry about cars, saying the center “looks nicer” with ample pedestrian space.
“I don’t know why they would do that,” he said of the plans.
Lorrie Gidley, who lives in the Anthem section of Henderson, moved to the valley six months ago from San Francisco and also has visited the District only a few times. But she, too, was unhappy with the plans, saying it would harm the picturesque setting.
“It’s a terrible idea,” she said.
The District, which has retail, office and residential space, was built in two phases on both sides of Green Valley Parkway just south of the 215 Beltway. The 16-acre east side, which has Whole Foods Market and other tenants, already offers vehicular access throughout the plaza. The recent proposal would only affect the 21.5-acre western portion, though the idea of seeing cars drive through isn’t new.
When that phase opened in 2004, a roadway bisected it in the same place where the new street is slated to be built, according to Blaha. By 2005, then-owner American Nevada Company was already planning to remove the street, she said.
Vestar, through a joint-venture with investment firm Rockwood Capital, bought The District in October 2011 for $79 million in cash from lenders that had foreclosed on the project earlier that year. The Greenspun family, owner of the Las Vegas Sun, developed The District through American Nevada.
As of last fall, the western portion of The District was 85 percent leased, the eastern portion 82 percent, according to Vestar.
Some store owners say the proposed changes might bring them more business, said Francesca Bellenis, co-owner of PierMartina Design, a custom clothing shop at the District. But as Bellenis sees it, the center already has plenty of parking, and the pedestrian space makes the District unique.
Her store opened there last December, and she picked the District partly because of the vast walkway.
“I really don’t see the purpose of it,” she said of the proposal.