‘We’re trying to stop the decay’: Effort to sustain redevelopment starts with Sahara Decatur Plaza

At Sahara Decatur Plaza, a once-bustling strip mall, Circuit City’s doors are locked (“Shop closing sale,” a sign still states, numerous years after the seller turned off) and used-car dealership Charlie Low-cost Automobile hawks cars in the parking area (“No credit? Bad credit? OK!” a banner says).

Meanwhile, an armed security personnel socializes with an individual at the base of a staircase resulting in the plaza’s second floor, where the only noticeable occupant is an Asian massage parlor.

The shopping center, at the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard, is by no method empty– occupants include Aloha Kitchen, Mary’s Hash Home, GQ Cuts and the Battery Source. But it’s laced with vacancies and, according to some employees there, gets thin foot traffic.

The center made use of to be “definitely jam-packed,” however without an anchor tenant, “there’s absolutely zero individuals coming in,” one worker said.

Asked to gauge the plaza’s health, the worker stated: “What health? There is no health. There’s nothing.”

Redevelopment activists, however, want to change that, in an effort to increase commerce and a sense of community in the valley.

Las Vegas is very well known as a gambling and celebration mecca, however outside the Strip, it’s a place with highway-like highways, sprawling strip malls and, oftentimes, disconnected residents. Designer Bob Fielden knows this too well.

Because he transferred to Las Vegas in 1964, individuals right here have actually “done an excellent job of developing an economy but a poor job of developing a neighborhood with any sense of quality of life for individuals who live here,” stated Fielden, owner of Henderson-based RAFI Architecture.

Sahara Decatur Plaza

As the population relocated to the valley’s edges, a lot of individuals remained in the inner core, in places that when were thought about suburban but now are viewed as urban. Their landscape, nevertheless, bears little similarity to more normal city areas in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco or New York that are packed with individuals, retail, jobs and public transportation, and where it’s easy to live without a vehicle.

Fielden wishes to change that. Through his role at the Urban Land Institute– he’s chairman of its Nevada district council’s smart-growth committee– Fielden is working with Hope House Structure and realty group Commercial Alliance on a redevelopment initiative. They wish to revitalize the valley’s inner rings by spurring new jobs– such as filling shopping center’ huge parking area with real estate– and expanding public transit.

To enhance awareness of the initiative, they’re holding a series of events at Sahara Decatur Plaza this weekend, consisting of a bicycle parade, a farmers market, pet adoptions and cultural efficiencies.

The objective, according to a news release, is to showcase the “prospective for vibrancy” in a “blighted location” and motivate community participation.

Fielden, a 77-year-old Texas local who lives near the shopping center, spoke to the Sun today about the task. Modified excerpts:

How did this task start?

This started more than 4 years ago through the Urban Land Institute-Nevada. We had a program on restarting Las Vegas. We were in the midst of among the best recessions we had actually ever been exposed to, and at the very same time, we had all these suburbs pressing further and further out. And they’re not communities; they’re communities. There’s no sense of house or quality of life, aside from that they’re brand-new and may be promoted as very prominent. But what about the other individuals who live here? We started checking out what we could do to assist the typical man and looked in our area.

Las Vegas isn’t really the only location where previous suburbs now are seen as metropolitan areas.

These are some of the oldest areas in the valley, and they’re the ones with decreasing commercial values. We have actually done very little to reinvest there because we’ve spent our cash establishing new suburbs. Instead of having everything develop into a ghetto, ULI’s concept was, if we could develop a model that the county and the cities might utilize to attack these arterial crossings, if we might do that on one intersection, you could take that model to others. All we have, along the arterials, are continuous commercials strips, and the housing kind of falls in between. If you’re in a location like Wrigleyville in Chicago, you can walk everywhere. If we can get people into that kind of setting, then they can do away with their cars. Every car they do away with, they’re conserving $10,000 a year. There’s a lot you can do with $10,000, but you don’t have that car. In order to make that work, you require a public transit system like Chicago’s to get you throughout the city.

Why begin by focusing on Sahara and Decatur?

We took a look at 20 or 30 locations that might be able to support more public transit. But at Sahara and Decatur, the northern half of the intersection remains in Las Vegas city limits, and the southern half remains in Clark County. The city and county have never ever had a good relationship working together, so we thought if we might get them involved in some pilot project together, we might remodel that design for Las Vegas and North Las Vegas; Las Vegas and Henderson; and Clark County and Henderson. That way, we can begin considering ourselves as more of an urban center, to believe more globally than we have in the past.

The valley is fulled of shopping center that have huge car park, often hardly fulled of cars. Is the goal to redevelop those properties?

You hit the nail on the head. We were thinking, how do you center a neighborhood? Las Vegas is on a 1-mile-by-1-mile grid. If you take Sahara and Decatur, we want everything within walking distance, a quarter-mile far from where you live. The idea is to repurpose the plazas and have them become more global in nature, in the sense that they ensure the items and services and tasks that can be utilized by individuals who reside in that neighborhood, so they can stroll to the pharmacy, the physician, church, the park. We ‘d take those big, empty shopping-center car park and revamp them with added housing. Ideally if we jump that density 50 to 75 percent higher than exactly what we have, it will appropriately support public transit. We’re attempting to stop the decay.

How has the Sahara/Decatur intersection changed for many years?

It was a distinguished community. The very best dining establishments in the area were at the northeast corner, the very best bars in town. If you were a single, white-collar person searching for a date, that’s where all the property representatives and attorneys accumulated after 5 p.m. It had fantastic food, high-dollar dining. That’s how it was up until the mid- to late ’90s, and then it simply began decreasing. Longs Drugs was in there, when they pulled out, it just began the vacuum and everything else began leaving. Vons left a few years earlier. We have a brand-new Mexican market that’s moved in, El Super; they’ve got some of the very best fruit and vegetables in town. In the location, we’ve got pair of Mormon churches, a Baptist church, a Spanish-speaking Baptist church, an Ethiopian church, a Korean Baptist church, a Buddhist temple. It’s actually a rich cultural setting. We want to build on that. I still reside in the location. I have actually got the Ethiopian church on one side of me, and the Korean Baptist church on the other. My partner and I laugh all the time; we can go to Capo’s to get packed, and we’re just 100 yards from praying for forgiveness.

How would you explain the intersection now?

If Summerlin were a B, it would be no much better than a C+. It’s empty. Who in the hell wants to go someplace and you’re the only car in the car park? There’s a lot opportunity there. We have to do something to stop the hemorrhaging. If we do not, they’ll end up like locations in east Las Vegas or North Las Vegas merely due to the fact that nobody has cared enough to attempt to wait.

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