The Downtown Project Experience

Container Park

What’s happening in Downtown Las Vegas?

Tony Hsieh, CEO of the online shoe and clothing shop, Zappos.com, invested $350 million of his own money into renovating downtown Las Vegas, through his passion project, Downtown Project.

He has invested $200 million into real estate, $50 million into small businesses, $50 million to education and culture, and $50 million into tech start-ups, through the VegasTechFund.

So far, 28 acres of land has been purchased. One hundred Tesla Model S electric cars have been purchased for community car and bike sharing, under Project 100. The Downtown Container Park, An outdoor mall made of shipping containers, is being built. The Inspire Theater is also in the works. The theater will be able to host 150 people, and consist of a bar, a rooftop bar, a newsstand, and a co-working space. The Downtown Speaker Series has begun, bringing together inspirational people to share ideas. And the Life Is Beautiful music, art, and food festival, taking place October 26-27, will be a huge factor in introducing this project to people outside of the community.

The purpose of the Downtown Project is to create community, to develop the co-working capital of the world, and to bring people together that are passionate about different projects (source: downtownproject.com).

My Experience

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been able to experience the Downtown Project firsthand through a few visits to Las Vegas. When I learned I would be working to help produce an event in downtown Vegas, I heard a lot about the Downtown Project. It was explained to me, and I did my research, but it wasn’t until I actually walked in downtown Vegas that I truly understood the magnitude of this project.

The Reinventing Events team on a tour of Zappos HQ

The Reinventing Events team on a tour of Zappos HQ

First, the Reinventing Events team took a tour of the Zappos Headquarters, in Henderson, NV, to help us understand more about the spirit of this project and the inner workings of Tony’s brain. What a unique experience it was!

We pulled up to the offices, which were located in a business park in the suburbs of NV. It seemed like any other corporate office from the outside. But I knew something was going to be different, just based on the fact that they offer daily tours. As we walked in, I noticed people hustling and bustling everywhere, unlike any corporate atmosphere I had ever seen. We were guided into a room with our tour group and were shown a video of Zappos employees singing about the company’s culture to the tune of “California Girls”, by Katy Perry. I also immediately noticed that employees were dressed very casually.

Our faces on the wall at Tech Cocktail HQWe were guided through the twists and turns of the Zappos office. It’s crazy in there! Employees are encouraged to decorate their desks however they desire. There are inflatable rafts perched up against desks and margarita glasses hanging from the ceiling. One employee even had his desk completed decked covered in Beatles paraphernalia. The executives’ desks are located in Monkey Row, and entire aisle of desks in the middle of the room completely engulfed in tree branches and leaves. I appreciated that even the big guys are consistent with the spirit of the office. The Zappos culture is incredibly refreshing. The employees exude such a positive spirit, that it doens’t even seem like they are at work (but of course they are working very hard).

We also took a tour of the Downtown Project where we got to walk through Tony Hsieh’s apartment in The Ogden in Downtown Vegas. I was completely caught off guard when we were led through a room where Tony was hosting a meeting. I was not expecting him to be there.  As we weaved through his home, our tour guide gave us a very informative talk about the purpose, values and goals of the Downtown Project. The main theme I gathered was that they want to create a unique community that fosters innovative thinking and progress in different realms such as technology, education, and the arts.

Tech CocktailWe are working with Tech Cocktail to produce their Celebrate conference, October 23-25. Come Celebrate with us! It’s a very cool experience to be involved with this Downtown community. There’s a vibe and a spirit that the community produces and it is contagious. It makes you want to do awesome things since everyone is doing awesome things! The Downtown Project is huge, and will have a massive effect on Las Vegas. This is a very unique project and I encourage everyone to read more about it here.

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