I live about two blocks away from Downtown Summerlin. That is the new shopping district located just south of Red Rock Resort in the far west end of the Las Vegas Valley. I went to go check it out on the first day it was open, which was Thursday, October 9. I returned on Monday.
The opening of the mall symbolizes the end of the Las Vegas recession. A steel structure of the project sat idle for about four years before construction started on it again. It was a victim of the economic downturn that bankrupted the original developer. It is great to see this massive project completed.
Great Marketing Plan by Downtown Summerlin
The people in charge of the grand opening marketing deserve recognition. The event drew in every news organization in Las Vegas. The social media campaign was impressive and interaction with guests was excellent. There were activities throughout the weekend to help draw residents to the new development. We also enjoyed watching the opening night fireworks show without even having to leave our house.
Major Restaurant Competition
The development has 125 shops. About 30 of those will be restaurants or food related businesses.
That is a lot of new restaurants opening at almost the same time. It is also not in an area that is conducive to lunch sales and many of the restaurants in the development are what I would consider lunch options. There is very little in the way of office space in the area. That will change as the Downtown Summerlin expands, but it is true for the near future.
The competition is going to be tough for these original tenants dedicated to food. I visited one on opening day when Downtown Summerlin was nearly at capacity in terms of cars and people and the restaurant was nearly empty. I visited the same place today and I was the only customer in there. Hopefully this is not a sign of the future.
The existing food outlets in the surrounding area may also struggle. Red Rock Resort seems to recognize this as it has nearly turned its restaurant selection completely over in the past year.
Retail Fills Void in Market
The shopping offers a wide selection. Retail was a segment missing from Summerlin. It is an affluent area that was underserved. The highway access should draw people from the northwest part of town. I would imagine that this area will boom with spending during Christmas season.
The traffic generated from Downtown Summerlin has been overwhelming so far. One issue has been the traffic signals at Sahara Avenue and NV215 and Town Center and 215. These signals are setup poorly on timers. The turn arrow off Sahara to go southbound on 215 goes twice per cycle but it runs very short. These need to be fixed immediately as it causes backups that are unnecessary.
It is also quite shocking that nobody had the foresight to put a light at Pavilion Center and Griffith Peak at the side entrance of Red Rock. There are 100 useless traffic signals in town and this intersection sits as a four way stop that was not efficient when Pavilion Center was a dead end, much less with 106 acres of new retail sitting on it.
The traffic pattern within Downtown Summerlin is a bit annoying as well. For example, when you turn right into the complex from Sahara Ave the road dead ends into a service drive going one way the other direction within 500 feet. Obviously these are needed, but the location and lack of ability to drive through that way is poor planning. The only way to get through it is to drive through a parking area.
Sidewalk and Crosswalk Connectivity Need Improvement
The layout of the sidewalks is terrible in the area I walked around along the Sahara Avenue entrance. There is no crosswalk where the exit to Sahara is. The sidewalks just assume that you want to leave. This may not be that big of a problem except that the sidewalk on the other side of the road ends towards the west side of the entrance into nothing, leading to a bunch of rocks. I doubt this is an area of future development. It isn’t demonstrated that way on the maps and it would obscure the existing tenant.
There is basically no way to walk from Trader Joe’s to the building where Moe’s and Five Guys are without walking through cactus and rocks even though they are within sight of each other.
Where Are the Bike Racks?
Downtown Summerlin offers no bike lanes, paths or racks that I saw. They certainly are not in the restaurant or frontage shopping areas. People that arrived by bike either locked them to random objects or left them unlocked. This situation was also noticed by this blogger.
There are apparently some bike racks in a hidden area of the parking deck and by the movie theater. This does little for people riding bikes to the quick serve outlets that are forced to lock them up to handicap parking signs and outdoor tables.
It seems that being bike friendly was the type of image the property was portraying. It is just across the highway from a popular bike path. I would ride my bike up there for lunch often but it does not even provide a place to store bikes. This was a major oversight that I hope is corrected.
All of this is meant to be constructive criticism. I am sure some of the issues I presented are in the works. The development was new and it is easy to understand that a few items did not make the initial launch. I want everyone to succeed that invested in this property and wish them the best of luck.