It’s rare that I agree with my first impression days after the fact but this is how I see the Downtown Container Park. Downtown Container Park just opened in Downtown Vegas on Fremont Street a block past El Cortez.
Downtown Container Park is essential an outdoor mall where the stores are all in storage containers. The mall surrounds a giant treehouse park area. The property has free wifi and a nice little grassy area with a stage for musicians to perform.
I don’t love Downtown Container Park and I don’t hate it. It’s a mall. It’s not a traditional mall but it has all the contents that you’d find in a traditional mall. It’s a place for people to shop and eat or for parents to bring their kids to play during the day. At night the restaurants will cater to the anyone who would like to eat and drink outside.
Let’s take a little tour and discuss specific parts of the Downtown Container Park.
The containers are stacked 2 and 3 levels high. The containers aren’t very big which could make this a tight squeeze if it gets busy. The height makes for some pretty cool views if nothing else. Thankfully all of the food and drink are located on the ground level.
Metal Chairs and Metal Tables
As Scott from Vital Vegas likes to say “What could go wrong?”
The combination of metal tables, metal chairs and limited shade in the park seem like a horrible mix for summer in Las Vegas. Since the only seating for Downtown Container Park is outside this could pose a major problem.
Maybe this is why they rushed to open an outdoor park/mall in time for winter.
The treehouse slide and park is set in the center of all the containers at Downtown Container Park. This area looks like a really cool place for kids to play. It also offers some of the only shade in the Downtown Container Park. Kids 1 – Adults 0.
Another view of the treehouse slide at Downtown Container Park. Weeeeeeeeee!
I can’t remember the last time I saw a water fountain that wasn’t from the 1920’s. This is a nice addition to the park area although the metal may become a health hazard in the summer.
The stage area at Downtown Container Park looks pretty cool. It should fit legit bands at night and kids stuff during the day. This could be a great outlet for Downtown Project to preview bands for at no charge as a way to promote Life Is Beautiful Fest 2014.
Note that the grass is real. That’s a big deal for the Vegas locals.
Big Erns BBQ was one of the few outlets to open before the Downtown Container Park was officially open. Early word is that the BBQ is legit. They also serve New Belgium beer. This sounds like a perfect combination. I hope to try this out before the winter comes to town. (UPDATE: I went here yesterday and wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good.)
The Llama is the unofficial mascot of Downtown Project. If I was cynical I’d say that this was placed near the front of the Downtown Container Park to keep non-DTP people out. But that’s if I was a cynic and believed that DTP was really a cult. I mean, seriously.
Downtown Container Park is a nifty little space that essentially takes up one city block. I think that Downtown Container Park could be a cool place to grab lunch and work a little (since they don’t open until 11am), bring the family for play time and shopping or to grab a few drinks at night while watching a band on the big stage. It’s another thing to check out when you’re visiting Downtown Vegas.
Downtown Project has been doing a lot of development for a local community that they’re helping cultivate. It’s going to take some time to see if this works out as they intend. I’m not sure that I entirely understand the vision but that’s fine. I’ll enjoy the new life they’re breathing into Downtown Vegas.
When The Linq was introduced a couple years ago I used to joke that it may not be real. Ground breaking was delayed a couple of times and little was happening. Well, The Linq exists. There is construction happening and some empty buildings waiting for some exciting tenants to move in, there’s a website and a huge circle (photo above) that will eventually become a ferris wheel. So they say.
Now The Linq will open in phases beginning in December 2013. A few stores will open in December. Some more will open in 2014 and the NAME TBD Ferris Wheel is said to open in the 2nd quarter of 2014.
One day The Linq sounds like it can be a cool mall area to hang out and grab a drink and the next day there’s an announcement about a hat store and this sounds like the corniest place on earth. It’s enough to make a cynic go to a casino and drink soda!
Regardless of how I feel about The Linq…
The giant ferris wheel is big and destined to become the new focal point of the Vegas Strip – for better or worse.
I grew up in the Bronx, NY. We didn’t have malls. We had stores on streets and even had a few shopping centers. I had to drive 20-30 minutes to the nearest mall. It was like a whole other world. I wouldn’t say it was awesome but it was different and that was cool. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I knew what a strip mall was.
Strip malls weren’t cool then, have never been cool and aren’t cool now. That doesn’t matter in Las Vegas. Vegas is the greatest place on earth but it’s never really been “cool”. That’s okay. Caesars Entertainment has been developing The Linq over the past year and that should be finished by the end of the year. Call it what you want but The Linq is essentially a glorified strip mall set between casinos.
We can confirm that the park will occupy Rue de Monte Carlo, including the CityCenter sales office and the entire parking lot behind and between New York New York and Monte Carlo.
Further, Vegas Tripping has details on the strip renovations planned for Monte Carlo. While The Linq will have a ferris wheel as the anchor of the shopping area The Park will have a brand spanking new arena that MGM Resorts is building in conjunction with AEG. A little north of Monte Carlo you’ll find Crystals mall next to Aria at the area formerly known as CityCenter.
My graphic skills are pretty bad but the future Vegas strip will look something like this:
Is the separation of casinos business and hotel business and retail business a good thing? Penn National thinks it’s good business. A few weeks ago they split their casino and hotel businesses into two separate companies.
Penn National Gaming has announced that it will split itself into an operating company and a REIT. The casino properties will be cleft between the two entities, with Penn National leasing most of them from the REIT.
OK, let’s get right to the bottom line: This is a big-ass tax dodge. REITs are exempt from federal taxes. Ergo, Penn rents property to itself and then is “required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of [its] taxable earnings to shareholders as dividends.”
This sounds half like a sketchy big business avoiding taxes but also like smart business move that may provide better service to the customer on both the hotel and casino businesses. Service should become better since employees will be concerned with less and able to focus on creating better experiences.
Penn National is the only company doing this right now, but Seeking Alpha thinks that seperating hotel, casino and mall business would be a good idea for Las Vegas Sands (LVS) (The Venetian & The Palazzo).
LVS is known for its exceptional gaming and lodging brand, but the company’s value proposition is centered on three different (and integrated) business models: Malls, Lodging, and Gaming. Collectively, the company’s three platforms provide tremendous value, and individually, the pieces appear to be worth more than the whole.
I don’t think that big businesses are always able look to the customer first. Take LVS, their priority is split between casinos, hotels and malls on multiple continents. Taking 2/3rds of the worry out of the hands of one person, for example, and handing it to 3 experts in different fields should help make each company operate better.
Additionally if employee bonuses are tied to the performance of their individual company as opposed to all 3 divisions as one company there isn’t the ability to let focus go on a division.
This should produce a better experience for the customer. On the surface, I think separating casinos from hotel and malls could be a good thing for everyone.
…the Yard House restaurant aims to slake the thirsts of beer fans, while the Asian-themed F.A.M.E.— for food, art, music and entertainment — market will offer sushi, dim sum, noodle bowls and robata grill foods to patrons in lounge seating and street art from urban Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul.
Other tenants include Sprinkles, a Los Angeles-based cupcake and ice cream shop; Flower and Barley, a brick oven pizzeria; Koto, an oddities and gifts store with outlets in Miami and Aspen, Colo.; and Off the Strip, a bistro and bar.
Caesars customers tend to be your average consumer. People from the coasts might say that Caesars markets to middle America. These are the blandest of the bland consumers. Your average mall shopper.
This person is the polar opposite of who The Cosmopolitan is trying to reach. Caesars customers are not young, cool or looking for anything new and interesting. I like Yard House, but this is a perfect example of what Caesars customers want. They play classic rock and serve beer. What says middle America more than that?
It’s cool, we’re not all the same and that’s cool.
Caesars has filled 12 of 18 spots in The Linq shopping and eating area with a year or so to go before opening. This seems very similar to the rate MGM acquired tenants for Crystals at City Center. That’s not bad.
I’m not going to predict success or failure until The Linq is open (if it opens), but the initial tenants show me that Caesars knows who their customer is.
I haven’t seen a solid opening date for The Linq until earlier this week when Vegas Chatter revealed this image they received from an email.
This just means that we can expect construction on the Las Vegas Strip to continue for most of next year. If the Bally’s Grand Bazaar actually breaks ground this quarter (don’t hold your breath) we can expect even more traffic on the strip. That’s awesome.
The strange thing about The Linq is that it’s this major strip project but nobody seems to know what it is or care. Comments on Vegas Chatter for articles on The Linq are empty unless they’re talking about the ferris wheel. Maybe a handful of Vegas travelers I know on the east coast have a clue about this until they run into traffic on the strip.
Every time I mention The Linq to random people I have to explain that it’s the reason that there’s so much traffic on the strip. Or it’s the thing where O’Sheas used to be. After they say “O’Sheas is gone?” nobody even asks what The Linq will be.
I’m fascinated by The Linq and initially thought that The Linq is a perfect match for the typical Caesars customer. I still think that’s the case, but find it interesting that few people outside of Vegas locals, media and nerds have a clue about something that is, potentially, changing the Vegas Strip so drastically.
CityCenter are the huge hunks of steel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip and owned by MGM-Mirage that has been under construction for the past few years. There are multiple buildings as part of the city and there were multiple grand openings for these properties. The final building to open was Aria, the casino and hotel, which opened while I was in Vegas.
I waited for everything to have their grand openings before exploring CityCenter. I walked over from the Bellagio where I had a wonderful cigar and Grey Goose and soda at the Petrossian Lounge. I was treated to some Christmas songs on piano while enjoying a Sunday night. This is one of my favorite spots at Bellagio.
I hate crowds and I didn’t need to worry about that when I headed over to CityCenter. After walking through the construction I finally landed in Crystals mall. This is a beautiful building, but the lack of opened stores was kind of depressing. If it wasn’t brand new it would have felt like a mall on its last legs and about to close.
I hope this isn’t an omen for Crystals. It could just be the bad economy. Right now, I don’t think the market needs more high end shopping. Of course, this wasn’t the case when CityCenter was being planned. Similarly, The Shoppes at Palazzo had a similar feeling but at least there are restaurants to bring people in.
From Crystals I headed into Aria. One of the cool things about both Crystals and Aria was the modern style and clean lines with interesting shapes and certainly not boring. Modern style only remains modern for so long and it will be interesting to see how Aria develops in the future. From the monorail station I felt as if I was looking at a building from the movie Tron. Below is a sweet water wall outside the main entrance.
The interior of the casino was very dark and the ceilings felt low, even though they weren’t. My iPhone couldn’t grab any interesting pictures due to the darkness. This is in contrast to how bright everything was on the outside.
Everything inside the casino was new. All new versions of my favorite slot machines – including a version of Top Dollar which I’ve never seen before that paid me $200. All of the slot machines were very bright and showed well in the dark setting.
There was one odd finding at Aria. There was a lack of ticket cashing machines. I walked around for a few minutes before I could find one. I only saw one in the entire casino. I’m sure there were more, but there was poor signage throughout CityCenter and this was just another example.
There were not many people playing table games. If I recall correctly all blackjack games under $25 use a Continuous Shuffle Machine (CMS). I don’t like CMS, but it’s better than 6/5.
After my tour I searched around and around for the monorail to go back to Bellagio. Since signage was poor it took a few minutes, but I found my way. The monorail let me off in an area of Bellagio that I’ve never seen. If I didn’t know what I was looking for there was no way I’d ever wander from Bellagio to CityCenter.
Overall, I have mixed first impressions on CityCenter. Everything looked very cool and very clean with some innovation that we’ll see in future casinos. I like the modern feel to everything, but that feeling was subdued by how cold and empty Crystals and Aria felt. I have the feeling that would have been even deeper if I’d gone into the other buildings.
CityCenter is still so new that I have to reserve judgement. After all, I hated Wynn after one trip and my December trip changed my mind. I’m curious to see how the property develops this year. I’m looking forward to seeing the difference when I visit later this year.