Everything is waiting for you
For over five years, the steel outline of a building lay untouched on a plot of desert land off the intersection of West Sahara and the 215, the beginnings of a “retail destination” for the inhabitants of Summerlin and the Las Vegas Valley. As construction began, the economy took a turn and immediately halted all work. Thousands of people drove past the structure for years speculating if and when work on the project would resume. Enter the Howard Hughes Corporation.
Written by Lea Lumba
The initial designer envisioned the shopping center as an indoor mall. When the Hughes Corporation took over the project and looked at developing the land, they completely reimagined it as an outdoor property filled with a fashion, food, and fun.
Initially called “Shoppes at Summerlin,” the project’s name changed to “Downtown Summerlin” because developers wanted the property to be the center of the community. Vicki Rousseau, director of marketing for Downtown Summerlin, explained that as the project progressed, the name “Shoppes at Summerlin” simply did not fit anymore. “It’s more than a shopping center. We envision this property to be a true ‘downtown,’ an urban core for Summerlin. It is meant to be a destination and, moreover, an experience.”
On October 9, 2014, Downtown Summerlin debuted with a grand ceremony—think fireworks, a light show, and live music. Not all of the stores and spaces are open for business, but walking the “downtown streets,” you’ll find a diverse collection of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.
Downtown Summerlin has over 125 shops that sell everything from clothes and accessories to computers and teapots. Walk along the main street, and you’ll see stores you recognize (Dillard’s, Macy’s, Chico’s, Apple, to name a few) as well as those you may not know. Lindbergh, a Denmark-based men’s apparel store and café (Yes, clothes and coffee!), chose Downtown Summerlin as its first venture in the United States, as did b. young, another Danish company that features women’s fashions.
Some of the shops offer more than just buying opportunities. You can try your hand at baking artisan bread or the perfect risotto at Sur La Table. The Downtown Summerlin “all things kitchen” store features cooking classes in their state-of-the-art kitchen. The store offers nightly classes from Monday through Thursday, two classes on Fridays, and three classes on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’d rather learn how to apply mascara or how to use a certain beauty tool, the gals at Sephora teach a variety of complimentary classes on Saturday mornings.
For Chef Allyson Ames, owner and founder, the bakery is more than a place to create and sell sweets—it’s about bringing out the little kid in us. Sweets transcend generations and brings back warm memories. Allyson believes that for Wonderland to be a success, fostering relationships is key. Since the bakery opened on January 1 of this year, they already have some “downtown regulars” who come in and order their “usual.”Another must-have in a downtown is the theater. The Regal Cinemas fit the bill, but unlike the old-time cinemas that offered buttered popcorn, candy, and soda to its patrons, the Downtown Summerlin 5 Cinema features dinner, a movie, and adult beverages with the latest flick. And, if the full bar (premium spirits, wines, and beers on tap) and decadent mac & cheese bites or a chicken sandwich on a buttery bun (with a side of waffle fries) don’t interest you, this theater offers reclining leather seating.
Wandering the streets of this downtown, you can’t help but notice the sculptures designed by local artist Dorit Schwartz. In partnership with St. Jude’s Research Hospital, Schwartz created the sculpture named “Celebration of Life,” and 10 different local artists specially painted each piece to reflect his/her own vision of celebrating life.
There are a number of artistic water features in Downtown Summerlin. Fountains in front of Dillard’s and Macy’s add an artistic flare to the watery sculptures. The highlight of the dining arroyo (the patio surrounded by restaurants such as MTO Café, California Pizza Kitchen, and Crave) are the two-story waterfall and “lake” into which the water spills. The arroyo offers benches and seating for visitors to sit, relax, and enjoy their time downtown.
Speaking of restaurants, foodies can rejoice. Downtown Summerlin offers everything from Asian to Italian and ice cream to pretzels. There are a lot of firsts in the restaurant offerings, too. Offering a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and traditional Taiwanese cuisine in the form of noodles and dumplings, Rice Republic has the first dim sum cart in Summerlin. California Pizza Kitchen introduced its new concept in its downtown location. Puck’s Bar is Puck’s first off-Strip restaurant, and Australian restaurant franchises Gelato Messina and Ribs and Burgers will open their first US stores in Downtown Summerlin later this year.
Downtown Summerlin already has plans to make itself the true downtown of the area. Ideas are already in the works to develop the 200 acres to its east which, according to proposals, will include an amphitheater, residences and a park. It’s all part of Downtown Summerlin’s strategy to continuously evolve and anticipate its community’s wants and needs, eventually transitioning itself into an urban core where one can truly live, work, and play.