I had the opportunity to speak with the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, a few nights ago. He was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Real Estate Insiders Club. In an era of much pessimism about the Las Vegas real estate market, Mayor Goodman is the voice of unbridled optimism. It was a refreshing change.
The meeting was held on the 24th floor of the Newport Lofts high-rise condominium in downtown Las Vegas. With breathtaking views of the Las Vegas strip as a backdrop, Mayor Goodman gushed about what the future holds for the City of Las Vegas. While one would expect any incumbent politician to exude optimism, Mayor Goodman could back it up with facts and accomplishments.
The Early Days
It wasn’t that long ago that people would not go near downtown Las Vegas. The hotel casinos in the area were seedy and the area was rundown and known for crime. Along came a brash and unabashed mob lawyer to run for mayor. He had a vision of returning the downtown area to its former glory days. Many people dismissed him as a martini drinking caricature that would make Las Vegas a laughingstock.
Now in his third and final four-year term after being reelected in a 2007 landslide, Mayor Goodman has seen much of his vision become reality. Downtown now has the Freemont Street Experience, an enclosed pedestrian mall boasting a spectacular light show, which attracts thousands of visitors each week. The World Market Center to compete with the High Point furniture trade show, high-rise condos luring residents to the area, and much more.
To be sure the economic downturn and collapse of the real estate market have had a significant impact. But as the Mayor said to the crowd of more than 100 real estate investors and professionals, we need to look beyond that. The recession will run its course and a recovery will begin at some point. When it does Las Vegas will see a rebound.
The Future Shows Promise
The crown jewel of Oscar Goodman’s three terms is the acquisition and development of a 61acre parcel of land in downtown Las Vegas. Once a brown field that no developer would consider, it is now the site of current and future world-class projects called Symphony Park. There is the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, high-rise condo projects, a planned state-of-the-art sports arena that the Mayor assured the crowd would attract an NBA team in the near future.
The Mayor spoke of a time when he had to beg people to listen to his redevelopment plans. Now, he says, he has people calling to pitch ideas almost every day. Mayor Goodman gave one piece of real estate investing advice to the standing room only audience, “buy any real estate you can get your hands on around downtown Las Vegas, it’ll never be this cheap again.”
I’m the happiest mayor in the universe! – Oscar Goodman, City of Las Vegas Mayor