New development, soccer team ‘lighting up downtown,‘ Goodman says

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman holds up a Las Vegas Lights pro soccer team scarf while giving a shout out to Las Vegas Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook during her 2018 State of the City address at City Hall downtown, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018.

Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 | 2 a.m.

At the beginning of her State of the City address, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told the crowd she’d been inundated with calls while preparing. People wanted to remind her about their project or business. “‘Don’t forget me, don’t forget me,’” she said, before holding up a thick notebook she’d borrowed from her staff. “So, where do I begin?”

It was obviously a joke, but the level of namedropping the mayor managed to squeeze into her hourlong speech was an impressive feat.

Goodman gushed mostly about development projects at Symphony Park, the medical district and downtown urban core, although she did acknowledge growth in some of the suburban areas of the city. She also emphasized public safety, transportation and education during the address, which took place in city hall chambers Thursday night.

Casino owner Derek Stevens got multiple mentions. One was for his ownership of two parcels of land on the northeast side of Symphony Park, which Goodman mentioned are zoned for gaming. Another was regarding his ongoing project at the site of the former Las Vegas Club. Details on both have been scant, said Goodman, because Stevens “keeps things close to his chest.” She joked that when she finds out, she will text everyone.

The Blackstone Group received a callout for its purchase of the World Market Center back in September. Goodman later said there is ongoing discussion about expanding meeting and convention space at that site in order to fill the void created by the closure of expo space at Cashman Center and a shift within the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to focus more on larger, pricier events.

The Las Vegas Lights Football Club, the professional soccer team set to debut at Cashman Field next month, perhaps received the biggest shoutout. Goodman ended her speech by acknowledging owner Brett Lashbrook and saying the team was inspiration for a phrase that best summarizes upcoming development and revitalization in the city: Downtown Lights Up.

“We are going to be lighting up downtown,” said Goodman, “and I don’t mean pot.”

Sprinkled between the plentiful number of shoutouts were brief announcements about plans for flashy new gateway signs to welcome people to the heart of the city and a technological refurbishment of the video canopy at Fremont Street Experience.

Transportation and infrastructure were a recurring theme of the night. Goodman praised the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada as a “phenomenal partner.” She twice mentioned that the RTC picks up 1,100 people every day from the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

Goodman spoke about the free shuttle service dubbed the Downtown Loop, which launched a six-month pilot run in June, and suggested local businesses need to better support it. She also mentioned the self-driving shuttle downtown, which launched its yearlong pilot program in November. That autonomous vehicle made international headlines because it was involved in a minor collision mere hours after launching.

“Some stupid person in a truck backed into it,” joked Goodman.

On a larger scale, the mayor expressed excitement about Project Neon and the “untangling” of the Spaghetti Bowl, though she warned that things will get worse for current commuters before getting better. Goodman also called out California for dragging its feet on efforts to widen and improve the stretch of Interstate 15 that runs from Barstow to Stateline.

“Our voice needs to come together to make a change,” she added.

Goodman also announced the creation of The Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas Life, which will be overseen by the Nevada Community Foundation. MGM Resorts International has contributed an initial $73,000 to the fund. That money will be used to support before- and after-school programs for students, including one set to launch this year focused on summer employment for students at inner-city schools.

The city also has plans to expand its pre-kindergarten program to more underserved areas. Specifically, it will launch a mobile version of its Strong Start Academy.

“We are going to the people,” Goodman said.

Goodman also stressed that the city is beginning to work on its citywide master plan and encouraged people to be active in the process.

While most of the address focused on future plans and excitement, the night did start out on a somber note as Goodman addressed the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

She recalled speaking to elected officials from places like Orlando who had lived through similar tragedies, as well as her phone call with President Donald Trump. She praised the first responders and emphasized the community’s shared belief in humanity over hatred.

She used the Community Healing Garden, which was conceptualized and created in the days following the shooting, as an example of residents banding together in the aftermath of tragedy.

“We have been tested,” she said. “Las Vegas has answered.”

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