Downtown Container Park

Shipping containers and a manufactured treehouse are the focal point of Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas, Nev. Photos Courtesy Of Todd McBrayer

Shipping containers and a

manufactured treehouse are the

focal point of Downtown Container

Park in Las Vegas, Nev.

Photos Courtesy Of Todd McBrayer

Big Ern can cook. I mean really, really cook. And if you were a fellow member of his Customer Loyalty Team at Zappos—or wandered by the office at the right time—you got to be one of the select few to enjoy some of the tantalizing dishes he brought to share.

More than once, a first-time taster would look up in awe and utter some version of “Big Ern, this is awesome. You should open a restaurant.”

Big Ern would smile and say, “That’s my dream.”

Little did Big Ern know that serendipity was on his side; his dream was about to come true, fueled in no small part by those dishes he brought to share and his employer’s decision to forgo building a self-sustaining corporate campus. His employer—Zappos—moved into the city of Las Vegas’s retired City Hall and decided to transform Downtown Las Vegas into the “most community-focused large city in the world … by inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected urban core.”

To accomplish this task, Downtown Project was formed. This group of passionate people allocated $350 million to be spent on real estate ($200 million), small businesses ($50 million), education ($50 million), and tech-startups through the Vegas Tech Fund ($50 million).

The first steps:

• Bring together communities of passion

• Add density of ground-level activities, spaces, and businesses

• Create the co-working capital of the world

• Create the shipping-container capital of the world

• Do it in less than five years.

A Park Is Born

The folks at Downtown Project realized that unlike most urban-revitalization projects centered on cities with vacant and crumbling buildings, Las Vegas was different. There weren’t many opportunities to remove vacant or crumbling buildings, but the need remained to quickly (and affordably) create spaces for new businesses.

Inspired by the container parks Zappos founder Tony Hsieh had seen in London, New York, and San Francisco, the team decided to “repurpose shipping containers as places for entrepreneurs to follow their passions.”

Their first use of shipping containers was envisioned by placing two containers on an empty corner lot. Todd McBrayer, LEED AP and Director of Design for Breslin Builders (the Las Vegas design-build firm hired for the project and the general contractor), says, “Originally, the plan was more of the traditional bring-us-a-box and it’s temporary. Then, it expanded to two parcels downtown. And then, once they really started to understand what they could make with this (building material), they flipped it across the street to its present location.”

The location is a 1.3-acre plot of land on the site of the old Orbit Inn—a three-story, 300-plus-room hotel that dates back to the days of “old Vegas.” The building was studied, determined to be too costly to repair or repurpose, and in October 2012, was torn down by Breslin Builders to make room for Downtown Container Park—a business incubator that provided a place for food and beverage venues, retail outlets, entertainment, and other events.

According to McBrayer, “They also wanted to create an interactive zone—an area in the center of the park where families can come and hang out while mom’s shopping or dad’s getting some food—and where kids can have fun.”

Unique, First, And Best

Trish Martin is a self-titled Soccer Mom—though she’s quick to point out that none of her kids actually play soccer. They swim.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Reverse Your Thinking
  2. Do You Need A Big Belly?
  3. Free Entry Days During MLK Weekend
  4. A Focus For The Future
  5. Peroxolyte Power
  • Columns
  • Departments