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September 16, 2014

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Joe Downtown:

Downtown Project scores with job creation, more parking and Peyton Manning’s mojo

Zappos Opening Ceremony Downtown

Zappos employee Ana Santiago catches confetti during the grand opening ceremony for the Zappos headquarters in the old city hall building downtown Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. According to RecordSetter, a record was set for the largest number of people (1,577 people) to cut a grand opening ribbon at the same time. Launch slideshow »

LIfe Is Beautiful Street Art Program

Launch slideshow »

Container Park Construction

The Mantis is seen after being installed at the Container Park downtown Friday, July 26, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Nearly 500 jobs, 440 new parking spaces, a job fair, a new nachos joint and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning — all were on the menu of the monthly rapid-fire roundup of Downtown Project plans, activities and businesses Monday night.

The monthly Downtown Lowdown, in the Learning Village at Fremont and 7th streets, is an update of what’s going on within the context of Downtown Project’s $350 million investment in redevelopment of the city’s urban core.

That renewal got a big boost last month when 1,500 Zappos.com employees began to move into the former City Hall, at Stewart Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. Many of the new faces at the Lowdown were Zappos workers, but others came with new businesses drawn to the area, some of them funded by the Project.

But the person who appeared to draw the most interest was Gerome Sapp, whose new tech product, Fluencr, has won funding from VegasTechFund, a Downtown Project seed-stage investment fund.

After being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Sapp played from 2003 through 2007 for the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts. Now 32, he is a partner in Fluencr, which he has described as a marketing platform that allows regular people/social media users to win micro-endorsement deals with major brands if analytics and other measurements prove they can be socially influential.

Interesting as that concept may be, Sapp hinted that in early 2014 his former teammate, Peyton Manning (he quarterbacked at the Colts before the Denver Broncos) could be making a visit to Las Vegas.

“Peyton Manning will be around here,” Sapp told the audience of some 200 people. “He was one of my teammates. It’s going to be really cool.”

Here’s a wrap of other updates from the meeting:

• Downtown Project says it has created 476 jobs in roughly the past two years.

• By the end of the year, and likely within a few weeks so they are ready for the Life Is Beautiful festival Oct. 26-27, two parking lots will be finished. At 9th and Fremont streets, named the Llama Lot, directly north of The Atomic bar, 369 parking spaces are going in. A spokesman said the lot’s perimeter will include “fire features.” Another lot at Las Vegas Boulevard and Ogden Avenue, the Gold Spike lot, will have 71 spaces.

• Downtown Rangers, Project-funded helpers who walk the streets of downtown, is holding a job fair Monday in the Construction Zone trailer, on 7th just south of Fremont.

• Remodeling The Bunkhouse, on 11th Street, is taking place with a focus on music, with improved stages, sound and better amenities for touring bands. Ashton Allen said the goal is for The Bunkhouse, built in 1953, to become a destination venue for music fans.

• Zach Ware said the goal is to get phase one of Project 100, the multimodal transportation system — including all-electric Teslas, bicycles, other electric vehicles and more — launched in the spring of 2014.

• The Downtown Container Park will open “in about a month,” with about 90 percent of the spaces leased out so far. Construction manager Paul Cline also said Inspire Theater, at Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street, is to be finished by the time Life is Beautiful begins, and asbestos abatement is done on the old John E. Carson hotel at Sixth Street and Carson Avenue.

• Employees of Nacho Daddy, a Mexican-American restaurant that opened first in Henderson, will open its second restaurant downtown as early as next week at 115 N. 4th St.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover Downtown; he lives and works there. He is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded Downtown journalist, stationed at an office in Emergency Arts. His work appears in the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly.

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