By Jackie Valley
Thirty years from now, downtown Las Vegas could be brimming with trees and parks strategically placed near many more residential buildings, markets and transit hubs.
That's the much-simplified vision of a new downtown master plan that's aimed at making the city's inner core a better place to live and work by improving mobility, economic opportunities and aesthetics. An updated version of the plan -- nearly two years in the making -- was presented Tuesday evening to the Las Vegas Planning Commission.
The plan eventually will replace the existing Downtown Centennial Plan, created in 2000 to guide the area's development for 20 years, said Robert Summerfield, who leads the city's long-range-planning efforts. The master plan sets the framework for development of policies and regulations.
If everything in the plan becomes reality, "you're going to see a downtown that is as vibrant and has the same urban amenities that you would imagine you'd see in a Portland, Seattle, San Francisco -- even certain neighborhoods of New York," he told the Sun after his presentation.
The master-planning process began in October 2014 and involved interviews with more than 100 stakeholders, such as business owners and developers, as well as five sessions to solicit public input. The outreach events drew more than 2,400 residents, Summerfield said.
The new master plan extends the boundaries of the focus area to include the Las Vegas Medical District on Charleston Boulevard; the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood; the area surrounding Cashman Center; and a quadrant south of the Fremont East entertainment district that city planners say is ripe for development.
The plan calls for city leaders to look for opportunities to increase office and live-work space and add convenience amenities, such as smaller-scale grocery stores.
Another heavy emphasis within the 277-page document is planning land use around proposed transit stations. As the Regional Transportation Commission plans major transit improvements -- such as urban light rail or bus rapid transit -- along Maryland Parkway, the city wants to concentrate its investments near those hubs, Summerfield said.
"As that light rail comes in and we improve some of our other transit infrastructure, then we create these ripple effects that move out from the hubs and fill up the districts," he said.
The new master plan will set the city's strategic vision through 2045 -- a longer window of time than the Centennial Plan given the "aggressive" changes suggested going forward, Summerfield said.
A final draft of the new master plan will go before the Las Vegas City Council for a vote May 18.
If it's approved, city planners will form a transitional plan to "patch the differences" between the Centennial Plan and the new one during the initial implementation, Summerfield said. A final implementation plan should be in place by the end of this year.
(c)2016 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)