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December 19, 2014

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LV officials eagerly clear plan for downtown shopping center

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A view of the Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Feb.13, 2013. The museum celebrates it's first anniversary on Valentine's Day.

Plans for a downtown shopping mall with a rooftop pool near the Mob Museum received enthusiastic approval from the Las Vegas City Council today.

The issue: The council reviewed development plans for a proposed retail, dining and conference complex on a parcel of city-owned land.

The vote: Approved unanimously.

What it means: Developers can move forward with plans to transform the old downtown bus transit center into a multilevel shopping and dining complex.

Plans presented to the council Wednesday call for 80,000 square feet of retail and dining and 15,000 square feet of conference space across three buildings, plus a six-story parking garage.

The highlight will be a picnic-themed rooftop pool area complete with cabanas and grassy areas to lay out on a blanket.

“We believe everybody likes picnics. It’s an experience that can be programmed any way we want ... It’s not designed for one demographic or one type of person,” said Seth Schorr, one of the partners in the development.

The city-owned parcel is located at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard near the Mob Museum.

It will be developed in partnership with the city by the CIM Group, the company also behind the the soon-to-open Downtown Grand casino located across Stewart Avenue from the planned mall.

Schorr, CEO of Downtown Grand, said the shopping center, pool and conference space will provide additional amenities for guests staying at the Downtown Grand while also serving the broader downtown community, including the influx of new Zappos employees who recently relocated to the nearby former city hall building.

Unlike labyrinthine malls connected to casinos on the Strip, Schorr said his group’s shopping center will be integrated into the downtown area, with plenty of access points to get in and out conveniently.

Schorr said he envisions the center as the final piece of the Downtown3rd, a burgeoning entertainment district that includes Downtown Grand and several other bars and restaurants.

“For decades, the Strip resort has been designed to be the perfect mousetrap. It’s designed to keep everybody in the building ... it works well,” he said. “We want to encourage people to explore the area. We believe by doing that we’re creating a holistically better experience (for our customers).”

The popular weekly downtown farmer’s market that is currently held at the old transit center will be displaced during construction, but Schorr said developers plan to continue the event.

The prospect of continued development downtown and the creation of new jobs drew a strong show of support from the council.

“I’m pretty stoked about it,” Councilman Steve Ross said.

Councilman Ricki Barlow, who represents the area, reflected on how much change has happened in the Stewart Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard area in the less than two years since the city moved out of its old building.

“With your help and assistance we’ll continue to uplift and really move our downtown in a direction that will stand up against any downtown in America,” Barlow said.

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