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KJW

Was there ever any uncertainty in the early days of Las Vegas?

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Hello all, I'm a visitor from the Urban Planet Northwest Arkansas forum who would like to ask a question to those who can remember the earlier days of Las Vegas - I'm going to ask the same thing in the Orlando forum.

I've one question - in the earlier days of Las Vegas, when it was truly becoming a boom town, did you ever see what seemed like a flurry of people (usually local, or local investment groups) with big ideas who may or may not have started to build something, only to see the project either get delayed or fall through?

Here in Northwest Arkansas we have indeed seen a metro area of nearly 500,000 spring up virtually in the last 6-10 years due to the presence of Wal-Mart here as well as some other corporate headquarters. Obviously we have far fewer attractions here than either your city or Orlando, though we're located in a very beautiful area of America known as the Ozark Mountains.

Nonetheless, we're getting some special amenities of our own such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (financed by the Walton family, so it's going through on schedule), plus a new baseball stadium which will house a AA farm team of the Kansas City Royals starting play next year. However, this year we've had some big ideas fall through or stall - a planned privately financed basketball arena that's been scrapped although the planners say they'll build elsewhere in the metro, 20 story condominiums on a nearby lake whose construction has stalled, more than 1 hotel or condominium complex that has either been scrapped or stalled, etc.

Now, our economy will always be cyclical and difficulties in financing experienced this year may give way to easier credit sooner than we think. Again, I also understand that the economies of Las Vegas / Orlando and northwest Arkansas are based on different industries.

However, did you see people with big ideas come and go without doing much in your city's earlier days? It's been a bit of a downer for us in NWA but I'm guessing that it happens everywhere - perhaps I'm mistaken. Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

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I think the ball got rolling with the idea of resort/casino/entertainment venues all rolled in to one. The older casinos were just that. When developers saw the money that could be made with lumping a theme, entertainment and retail together it was just like a snowball effect. Now every new development has to have those same amenities in order to compete. The first time I visited Vegas in 97 it was all about TI, Bellegio and Paris. Now those are the older of the new style casino/resort places. Now the only truly casinos are in downtown and outside of the stip. Now the Frontier and Stardust are gone with new casino/resort developments taking their place. Even the Barbary Coast has changed its name although there cheap breakfast and lunch specials are still there. I don't expect that block the Flamingo/Imperial Palace to be around for much longer. The strip will look very different in about 3-5 years. For the better I don't know. The quest for money has changed the way developers build. No longer are they catering to the casual tourist that doesn't have a lot of disposable income. These new resorts are looking for the person with money to burn and time to kill. IMO the locals are the ones who are losing out on all of this. Some of the prices can kill your wallet especially if you are paying a killer mortgage payment. The name of the game is what the developers demographic they are building for. Plus it does help that Vegas is just a far flung suburb of LA. I don't see any of the new resorts not getting built. Too much momentum going on here.

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