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Could Las Vegas Strip Mall Dethrone THE Strip?

Penny March 10, 2023

Plans are afoot to create another 24-hour hotspot in Las Vegas. Commercial Center, previously seen as nothing but a typical US strip mall, could be changing. Proposals have been put forward to allow for 24/7 gaming. The move comes in an effort to deter crime and breathe life into an underused part of town. There are, however, opponents of the plan. But what could Vegas residents expect if the plans are to go ahead?

Las Vegas Commercial Center

Following a spate of crimes in the area, revitalizing Commercial Center has become a priority. Ensuring a constant level of footfall is seen as one way of combating these crimes. Currently, the mall is home mostly to daytime businesses like beauty schools and bookstores. However, there are a number of taverns already occupying the mall. The plan is to utilize these taverns to create a safer environment around the strip mall at night. The Clark County proposal would see an exemption extended to those establishments and to a maximum of six. The exemption would allow them to host tabletop gaming 24/7, creating a new nightlife to self-police the area.


A Good but Divisive Initiative for Vegas

While many see this as a proposal that could help clean up a less-than-perfect part of the Nevada city, some would disagree. There were always going to be established businesses that would oppose the plans. It’s no surprise, then, that many have voiced their concerns over competition. They see the plans to designate a new gambling zone as potentially taking custom away. It’s unlikely that the Bellagio and its ilk will see a major drop in fortunes but smaller businesses on the periphery of Vegas’ bright lights might have legitimate qualms. A spokesperson for the bar and grill chain Timbers made this point.

Surprisingly, that hasn’t been the primary opposition. Many have pointed out that the mall is situated close to both schools and churches. A letter from the Nevada Resort Association pointed out, “[taverns must be] at least 1,500 feet from the nearest school or church”. And though these taverns may already exist, the concern lies more with them being granted new licenses. The letter went on to mention the county’s stance on granting new gaming licenses. They went on to say that they had been promised that “redevelopment dollars would not be used to support existing or prospective gaming licensees”. As such, this latest move could be seen as disregarding their previous reassurances.


The Strip’s Influence Sprawling

Beyond presenting the existing taverns with new licenses, there’s also a drive to create new businesses. Derek Stonebarger, a local renowned business owner, is looking to take advantage of the recent phenomenon of members of the historic Las Vegas arts community migrating to the center in search of cheaper rents. He’s looking to build what he describes as an “art steakhouse”. This would host, alongside the restaurant, an art gallery. In that gallery, Stonebarger said, “there’ll be potentially over 2000 pieces of artwork for sale”. He will also look to expand his enterprise into gaming, taking advantage of the move for 24/7 gaming. 

The art steakhouse would prove an interesting development in the Vegas landscape. Should the arts district, historically off Main Street, move or expand, it could breathe new life into it. With the aforementioned high rents, the district has become a lot less independent and is now somewhat reliant on investors without the arts’ best interest at heart. This could be a real turning point in this recent shift. It could prove to be an exciting time for the creatives in Nevada.

However, a lot will look at this news and perceive it as something of an urban sprawl – the center of Vegas and its casino-rich environment slowly leaking out into the suburbs. And it’s for that reason that it’s likely that there will be a greater number who oppose the plans. It’s hard to advocate for the approval of new gaming licenses in a suburban area that is less than a 10-minute drive to Caesars Palace and the Bellagio. Some will see the statements about crime deterrents as a shameless appeal to emotion. A number of loved businesses have closed down in the Commercial Center district in recent years because of crime. However, to most, the clear answer to that problem lies solely at the feet of those in charge of policing and community outreach. With all that in mind, these proposals really do hang in the balance.

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