Monday, January 9, 2012

The Vegas That Could Have Been

With the close of 2011 and the (probably) turning of the recession corner for Las Vegas, it makes sense to wander about and survey the wreckage, so to speak. When the recession struck in December 2007 (arguably earlier for our fair city), there were 11.2 million square feet of commercial space that were planned and ready to go. As the economic situation worsened, these projects went into Limbo, and I think it’s safe to say that most of them are now dead and buried.

Over at the Neverland Files, you can take a stroll around Disney attractions and lands that never quite got out of the planning stages. From the view on top of 2011, you can now take a similar stroll through a Las Vegas that might have been.

How about a central core bordering the resort corridor that is flush with high-rise condominiums? That was the dream, pre-recession.

We would have a giant, new mall in Summerlin, complete with two office towers.

The 825,000 square foot World Jewelry Center would have broken ground Downtown (though Downtown is actually doing pretty well without it).

Mendenhall would have an almost 1,000,000 square foot facility completed out on North Lamb, and across the street there would be a shiny new office tower looking back instead of an empty lot.

When you look at the dreams that once danced in developer’s heads, it’s not hard to imagine Southern Nevada keeping those now-vanished 80,000 construction workers quite busy for the next decade. But it was not to be. Las Vegas broke Kasem’s Rule – we were shooting for the stars, but we didn’t keep our feet on the ground. But while we may not have what we thought we would have, Las Vegas has retained its potential. We used to live by the mantra “If we build it, they will come”, but the truth is, the people are coming to Las Vegas without the construction, as tourists and new residents. As the decade wears on and Las Vegas gets back to business, new dreams will be hatched in Las Vegas (water parks and giant Ferris wheels, anyone?), and this time, they might actually come true.


Image from the Jetsons' trip to Fabulous Las Venus, found at Yowp.

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