Converging culture, commerce and residential in its downtown, the City of Henderson in Nevada has used innovative investment strategies to invigorate the area.
Just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, Henderson’s downtown has served as a walkable collection of shopping, dining and gaming options surrounded by housing either in disrepair, antiquated, or in various stages of renovation. The downtown has about 290 businesses and 1,500 residents, of whom about 76 percent are under the age of 55.
Since its creation by the city in 1985, the Henderson Redevelopment Agency has not only provided funding for physical improvements, but also has been building communities by attracting new businesses and private investment that have created new jobs, added public art to neighborhoods, and provided residents with funding to make improvements to their homes.
For the downtown area, the original investment strategy created by the Redevelopment Agency in 2002 has culminated in more jobs, additional commercial space, new residential dwellings, and growing visitor numbers.
Starting in early 2011, the agency then started a process to update its downtown investment strategy, relying on input from residents and businesses to reach a consensus on what is achievable in the future.
Overall, the process consisted of eight months of compiling and analyzing data with a Technical Committee, comprised of city staff, businesses, and local stakeholders.
Over four months, five public meetings were held, including two outreach sessions each for of the residential and business communities. A final open house forum brought both groups together.
Through these meetings, Henderson conducted visioning exercises to plan the development of city-owned property, shared long-term visual concepts of developments that could continue to make the downtown a vibrant live-work-play environment and asked participants to select top choices for short-term redevelopment tactics ranging from business development and residential rehabilitation to provision of open space.
Additionally, the city discussed the highest and best uses for the vacant property in downtown, presented findings and action items necessary to implement the residents’ wish list of businesses and activity for the downtown and addressed some of the high-priority issues and concerns raised by residents at the initial meeting, including blight, code enforcement and safety.
Goals outlined for 2025 include adding 3,500 residential units, adding 500 jobs, increasing annual visitors from 500,000 to one million, adding urban park space, and maintaining a balanced transportation system.
So far through the update process, the Redevelopment Agency has seen increased traction and involvement from the larger community in creating a market for private investment downtown. The update is tentatively schedule for adoption in March 2012.
Material for this article was provided by the Henderson Redevelopment Agency. For more information, visit http://www.cityofhenderson.com/redevelopment_agency/index.php
Published in the February/March 2012 The Western Planner