Sometimes I poke at an issue that seems intractable. Like the search for the great Monte Cristo sandwich. Or the still-unknown origin of the metal tower at 11th Street and Ogden Avenue. Or the borders of Downtown.
Last week, I referenced a recent Downtown Las Vegas Alliance symposium on urban living in which the arrival of Whole Foods was held up as one sign of successful Downtown revitalization. I made a case for a full-service grocer to be built in what we’ll call Downtown Proper, i.e., somewhere walkable for the high-rises and apartments, and both attractive and accessible by car to a “Greater Downtown” population that includes all residents living within a 4-mile radius.
In a comment on vegasseven.com, a reader called both my “direction and analysis sorely flawed,” saying that the “grocery stores that service Downtown already exist on Maryland Parkway” and cited a Smith’s (Maryland Parkway and Sahara Avenue), a Vons (Twain Avenue and Maryland Parkway) and a Target (Maryland Parkway and Flamingo Road). While I appreciate the attempt to shoehorn the University District into a Greater Downtown, those locations are in the unincorporated townships of Winchester and Paradise, not the city of Las Vegas. More importantly, they are farther away from Main and Fremont streets than the Smith’s at Rancho Drive and Charleston Boulevard. It does depend on which end of Greater Downtown one lives, I suppose.
To that end, I decided to investigate both of our geographic positions using the nifty freemaptools.com. I discovered that my proposed 4-mile radius stretches embarrassingly beyond my own DTLV parameters. After fiddling around with the website, the closest I could get to my intent was a 2-mile radius, using Symphony Park as the center.
Still, the point wasn’t that the Greater Downtown area needs easier access to typical chain grocers. As has been pointed out, the outlying neighborhoods already have several options. Instead, my suggestion hinges on attracting a unique, affordable and demographically appealing grocer (Sprouts, perhaps) to Downtown Proper by considering both the immediate population as well as drive-in shoppers who lack such options nearby. By doing so, such a project could be economically viable in the 89101 ZIP code sooner rather than later, and sooner is what is needed to maintain Downtown’s momentum.
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