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August 31, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Organizers seek OK for ‘Life is Beautiful Festival’

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Joe Schoenmann

Organizers of the Life is Beautiful Festival want to use the Fremont East District acreage that formerly was the home of the Ambassador East motel for a two-day event in October that melds music, food and art.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 | 5:17 p.m.

City leaders next week will consider plans to turn a vacant, three-acre lot on Fremont Street into the home of the Life Is Beautiful Festival, a Downtown Project-supported event scheduled for October.

The city’s Planning Commission is scheduled to review a zoning variance request to allow a change in fencing at 902 and 916 Fremont St., a 2.75-acre plot where the Ambassador East used to stand. The land is part of 6.2 acres Downtown Project investors purchased for $7.9 million in September 2012.

Downtown Project sources say festival organizers want to use the Fremont East District acreage for the festival, which has been described as a two-day event melding music, food and art. It has also previously been described as potentially running out of multiple indoor and outdoor spaces. Rehan Choudhry told Las Vegas Weekly, the Sun’s sister publication, that musical acts to be considered would include headliners to up-and-coming performers.

Paul Cline, of the Downtown Project’s real estate team, said late Tuesday the plan was for the site to become a large parking lot that would double as space for festivals five to six times per year.

The site, which takes up an entire block, sits at the northwest corner of 10th and Fremont streets and is directly north of The Atomic, one of the oldest taverns in downtown Las Vegas. The Atomic was purchased last summer and is expected to reopen this spring.

Roughly a dozen palm trees grow throughout the lot; curbs jut a few inches from the asphalt where parking used to abut the old Ambassador East. And while downtown’s redevelopment is creeping eastward, it hasn’t yet reached these blocks of Fremont. Tuesday morning, people walked here and there, and one man offered to sell crystal meth. The nearest construction activity was two to three blocks east at Seventh and Fremont, where ground is being graded for the downtown Container Park.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 in City Hall.

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 building.

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