Downtown Project reaffirms commitment to Las Vegas

Downtown Project reaffirms commitment to Las Vegas

Written by Bethany Barnes

ÒAnybody hear any news in the last week?Ó Downtown Project spokeswoman Kim Schaefer said, opening the companyÕs monthly meeting Ñ which came on the heels of national media speculation that the recent layoffs of 30 employees was a sign Tony Hsieh may pull the plug on his $350 million real estate play.

RE/CODE, a tech news website, was in the middle of a series on HsiehÕs efforts when news of the layoffs broke. The site quickly fired off additional dispatches, one of which asserted that Hsieh had stepped down. The Zappos CEO denied the news, saying his role had not changed.

ÒThe news of TonyÕs demise are greatly exaggerated,Ó Schaefer joked after telling the audience Downtown Project wasnÕt happy with inaccuracies in the press.

One chuckle Ñ maybe two.

ÒCome on! IÕm up here all alone. Laugh!Ó

The meeting to inform visitors and employees about downtown happenings trotted out various positive stories.

Life is Beautiful festival founder and partner Rehan Choudhry told the crowd it was emotional to see projects, like The Market, a grocery opening on East Fremont Street this week, come to fruition. To lift spirits, Choudhry gave away eight festival passes. A Nacho Daddy official followed, giving away gift certificates. A representative with the Bunkhouse Saloon joined in Ñ offering all winners concert tickets.

One update was that Rumgr, a Las Vegas startup that created an app designed to mimic a garage sale, had been bought by eBay. The purchase means the Rumgr team will be relocating to California.

ÒOur hearts are very much still here in Las Vegas and we will still continue showing our faces around here,Ó Rumgr co-founder Dylan Bathurst said. ÒHopefully we can continue to work and play downtown.Ó

Schaefer told the crowd the purchase was Òa shining testimony for whatÕs possible here in downtown Las Vegas.Ó

Does that example mean downtown Las Vegas will act more as a startup launching pad than an incubator for larger growth?

ÒWeÕve always envisioned downtown as being a place where people can take an idea and grow it,Ó Schaefer said. ÒIf they stay here thatÕs greatÑ but if they need to move on and grow their business, we canÕt do anything but wish them well.Ó

Regardless of where Downtown ProjectÕs many investments choose to go Ñ the message at the ÒDowntown LowdownÓ was that the quirky redevelopment effort isnÕt going to skip town yet.

ÒWeÕre all in this together folks,Ó Schaefer, ended, sparking a round of applause. ÒWeÕre not packing up our toys and going anywhere.Ó

Contact Bethany Barnes at or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes.