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Downtown's Shipping Container Park Taking Shape (On Paper)

Where: Fremont and Seventh Streets [map], 89101
August 22, 2012 at 12:08 PM | by | ()

Back in the spring, shoe mogul and downtown proponent Tony Hsieh let the world peek into his vision of the future for downtown Vegas. Included amongst his goals of building passion, increasing residential density and creating the co-working capital of the world was another lofty target of global domination: creating the shipping container capital of the world. That brought out the New Jersey naysayers, but perhaps because it was difficult to picture what a city of shipping containers would look and feel like.

To recap, urban revitalization historically rises from re-purposing, improving, and renovating abandoned, rundown buildings, warehouses, or industrial sites. San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is a prime example. The problem in Vegas is that downtown isn't full of old, empty buildings begging to be reinvented. There's a lot of empty land. It's a problem some cities may think is nice to have. But, here in Vegas that means scores of viable business ideas waiting to launch have nowhere to go until buildings are designed, approved, and built on those empty plots. Shipping containers solve that problem by going up quicker and being fairly mobile to move as needed.

In picturing downtown's future full of shipping containers, our imagination conjured up images similar to what our camera captured last week on the site of this future Container Park:

The above picture was further cemented in our mind when reader seanb hooked us up with pictures of a Puma Shipping Container Store once setup in Boston:

Neither image really screams that downtown will soon be the place to be in Vegas, does it? One looks like an engineer's office waiting bigger and better plans while the other tempts us to store some unwanted furniture for a monthly fee.

Last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported further details: the "Container Park" will include 11,000 square feet of retail space, 3,200 square feet for restaurants and taverns, office space, a children's playground, performance space and, get ready for this, a large praying mantis sculpture with flames shooting from the antennae. We repeat: a praying mantis that shoots flames. Even the best Transformer episode would have a hard time turning an everyday shipping container into a fire-throwing praying mantis. Our vision of the future still fell short of fascinating.

But then, this week, Downtown Project released renderings of the now named Central Container Park, one of which is the lead photo up top. A little fancier than expected,a but framed with boxy shapes we could be convinced somewhat resemble shipping containers.

Depicted in that first rendering is a train station, three-story retail and office spaces, a playground, a fancy immersion dome and, yes, even the praying mantis shooting flames from its antennae. Let's flip it around and add the details:

Still curious about the flaming praying mantis, aren't you? Throw on some fire retardant pants and click here for a closer peek.

Proposed perimeter drawings of an idea are all fine and good, but is the inside attractive and functional? A rendering of tiny people in groups conjecturing about who painted and disassembled Stonehenge brings the realization that much closer:

If you're not quite in Tony Hsieh's head yet, we present the final released rendering involving a crowd of visitors, but mostly a Magic Johnson fan chatting up a pair of ladies over a burger, maybe a beer, maybe a game of chess or dissertation of the latest VegasChatter stories -- we just don't know yet as the possibilities are endless:

DowntownProject reports Central Container Park could be up and running in spring 2013. We look forward to following the progress and bringing you video of that flame-throwing praying mantis. For all the details and renderings shipped and stacked to date, click on over to DowntownProject.com.

[Photos -- Puma Store: bostsean; Central Container Park renderings: downtownproject; all others: VegasChatter]

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