Fremont Street Experience To Boost Downtown Las Vegas Economy
The Fremont Street Experience, a redevelopment project that has
transformed downtown Las Vegas into a resort destination and must-see
attraction that will benefit all of Southern Nevada.
The preservation of downtown is essential to the economic health of the City
of Las Vegas. More than $70 million in taxes -- including $6.4 million in room
tax revenues collected during fiscal year 1994-95-- are affected by the prosperity
of hotels and casinos along Fremont Street.
Downtown Las Vegas represents a $1.5 billion investment, 14,000 hotel
rooms, 500,000 square feet of casino space and 41 restaurants. Over the past
few years, however, the area has seen a steady decrease in gross gaming
revenues and a gradual decline in its infrastructure. The opening in late 1993
of three major megaresorts drained gaming revenues from downtown to the
Las Vegas Strip, and dramatically lowered downtown's percentage share of
hotel rooms in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, by drawing a majority of the estimated 30 million people who
will visit Las Vegas in 1995, the Strip has experienced a phenomenal
economic and building boom. Analysts say the new megaresorts generate
about 50 percent of all gaming revenues for Southern Nevada.
The Fremont Street Experience won't be the panacea that cures all ills of
downtown Las Vegas. However, the resulting increase in business to the area
created by the project's must-see attraction--the Light and Sound Show with
its 2.1 million lights and booming, symphonic sound--will be the
revitalization catalyst needed by the area to preserve the existing 22,000 jobs in
the downtown core.
"The development of the Fremont Street Experience as a 'must-see attraction'
clearly allows downtown Las Vegas to position itself comparably with the
new developments along the Las Vegas Strip," said Donald D. Snyder,
president of the Fremont Street Experience Company. "The Fremont Street
Experience will allow the downtown properties to expand their customer base
and allow the market to elevate itself to a higher level."
Snyder said the revitalization brought to downtown Las Vegas by the
Fremont Street Experience will be the starting point for continued
investment in the area's smaller businesses, which depend on customer
traffic primarily generated by the hotel-casinos in the Fremont corridor. New
development would also mean an increase in jobs.
"Downtown has contributed $13 million in funds to the redevelopment
agency," Snyder said. "The prosperity of downtown's hotel-casinos will mean
the preservation of future redevelopment funds to revitalize all of
In eager anticipation of an expected influx of visitors who will make the
Fremont Street Experience a "must see" on their list of things to do in Las
Vegas, downtown hotels have embarked on an unprecedented round of
expansions and improvements
In early September, Binion's Horseshoe won Las Vegas City Council approval
for a $70 million, 36-story tower that will add 660 new rooms to the hotel's
current 373 rooms. Approval of the plans follows the recent completion of
pedestrian walkways linking the Horseshoe's three parking garages. The
hotel also has opened a new baccarat pit and high-limit blackjack area at a cost
The Las Vegas Club recently broke ground on a new 15-story tower which will
nearly double the hotel's room inventory from 224 to 409. When finished,
the $30 million expansion will add 185 oversize rooms with sitting areas, five
deluxe Jacuzzi suites, three new restaurants, a sports bar, gift shops, an
additional 18,000-square feet of casino space, and meeting and convention
space for 400. The parking structure is being remodeled and the hotel lobby-
registration area will move into the new lower level as early as December.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in September 1996.
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald's is planning a three-phase expansion that will
culminate with a 650-room tower, new restaurants, an enlarged casino and an
upgraded facade on Fremont Street.
The Four Queens has completed a $5 million facelift and is planning more
improvements, and Sam Boyd's Fremont will open a new race and sports
book and remodel its exterior facade. In addition, Boyd Gaming Corp. is
planning to reopen the vacant Main Street Station, with construction
beginning in November on a new parking structure south of the hotel.
Last December, Sam Boyd's California completed a major expansion, adding
146 rooms to its existing 650 rooms. In August, the Golden Nugget completed
renovations to all its suites and will finish upgrades to rooms in its north
tower in January 1996. A decorative treatment also was installed on
walkways fronting the Golden Nugget on Fremont and First streets and
Casino Center Boulevard.
Jackie Gaughan's Plaza recently added a 1950's style diner called the "Plaza
Diner," and has begun a $200,000 renovation on the former Center Stage
restaurant, the only downtown restaurant offering a full view of the Fremont
Street Experience space frame.
In addition, the Plaza completed $3.5 million in room upgrades in December
1994, installed new carpet throughout the hotel at a cost of $8.5 million,
modernized its elevators and renovated the casino, and will soon begin
improvements to the exterior facade.
Meanwhile, the El Cortez has renovated all 200 of its tower rooms and soon
will begin upgrading the hotel's 107 original rooms, and will add more casino
space and lay new carpet throughout the property in October.
The Golden Gate, founded in 1906 and the oldest hotel in Las Vegas, has
completed a series of room and casino facelifts that have resulted in a turn-of-
the-century, old San Francisco atmosphere. Beginning in spring 1996, the
Golden Gate will refurbish the hotel's exterior with window awnings and
planter boxes, and a hedge on the roof that will be visible from street level.
Also, preliminary plans are on the drawing board for 30 new rooms that will
be added to the current inventory of 106 rooms.
"Almost every downtown property is spending money on remodeling,
renovations and expansions," Snyder said. "Overall, approximately $200
million is currently being invested by the downtown properties to coincide
with the opening of the Fremont Street Experience. Another positive aspect
of the project is the anticipated reopening of the vacant Main Street Station by
Boyd Gaming Corporation."
Other downtown Las Vegas projects include the 350,000-square-foot Clark
County Administration complex, a new federal courthouse planned on the
former site of the proposed Minami Tower, and plans unveiled by Polyphase
Corp. of Texas for $300 million domed stadium with a capacity of nearly
80,000 on the former Union Pacific Railroad property west of downtown.
Also, the Fremont Street Experience can be linked to more than $20 million
in road improvements, including new underpasses at Ogden Avenue and
Bonneville Avenue that attach the former Union Pacific land with the rest of
Even downtown businesses such as law offices and accounting firms, which
exist independently of the hotel-casinos, will benefit from a revitalized area.
The Fremont Street Experience is being designed as a major competitor for
the Las Vegas tourist dollar by making downtown Las Vegas a destination
within itself. The project's ultimate goal is to increase occupancy, room
inventory and diversify the customer base in the downtown Las Vegas hotel-
From a social standpoint, revitalization brought about by the Fremont Street
Experience is extremely critical to the community. A downtown Las Vegas in
the mist of economic problems affects the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding
communities, such as West Las Vegas.
"Cities which have successfully completed the bricks and mortar of
redevelopment gain the economic resources to effectively deal with vital
social concerns," Snyder said. "Downtown revitalization brought about by the
Fremont Street Experience is in the best interest of all of us who are
concerned about the economic and social growth of Las Vegas."
Downtown Las Vegas is following a course which has proven successful in
other cities across the country. Through a single redevelopment project, cities
like San Diego, Boston, Denver and Santa Monica have provided the
necessary catalyst for revitalization in their downtown areas.
Information provided by the Fremont Street Experience
- Las Vegas (1995)