New Downtown Las Vegas Venue Proposed; New Orleans Makes Headway on Convention Center Boulevard Redevelopment Project

March 30, 2018

Two convention cities have been busy planning new event spaces and beautification projects to attract even more group business to their respective destinations.  

The City of Las Vegas and International Market Centers, owners and operators of World Market Center Las Vegas, have set their sights on developing a new 350,000 square foot Expo Center in downtown Las Vegas adjacent to the WMC.

The new multi-use building would be constructed on the nearly 60-acre World Market Center Las Vegas campus, which currently comprises three interconnected showroom buildings with more than five million sq. ft. of permanent showroom space, a parking garage and three Pavilion temporary exhibit structures.

The proposal for the Expo Center is scheduled come up for a vote at the Las Vegas City Council meeting on April 4.

According to IMC officials, the new exhibition and meeting space would provide an option in Downtown Las Vegas to host larger-scale trade shows, conventions and other exhibitions that are currently unable to be accommodated by the existing inventory of event venues.

“We have been working closely with International Market Centers for some time on this proposal and believe it will fill a need in the downtown area, especially with the closing of Cashman Center,” explained Bill Arent, director of the city of Las Vegas Economic & Urban Development Department.

He added, “We look forward to presenting this proposal to the City Council.”

The Expo Center would also be used for the bi-annual Las Vegas Market, a furniture, gift and home décor tradeshow that draws in approximately 100,000 visitors to WMC and Las Vegas each year.

In addition, IMC plans to offer the Expo Center for a set number of days throughout the year to host non-profit events as designated by the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency.

As it reaches peak occupancy, the Expo Center is expected to generate $97 million in annual visitor spending in Downtown Las Vegas and $234 million in the broader Southern Nevada area, according to IMC officials.

The new venue is estimated to have a price tag of $76 million, of which the City of Las Vegas would contribute $30 million through a TIF (tax increment financing) note.

Construction is expected to begin within the next 12-18 months and take approximately 18 months to complete.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, a contract has been awarded for the redevelopment of Convention Center Boulevard that includes significant enhancements to the exterior access ways along the entire length of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Designed by Manning Architects and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and to be built by Landis Construction, the new $65 million pedestrian park will repurpose 7.5 acres of roadway into a lushly landscaped continuous pedestrian promenade along the front of the Convention Center that will include a tree-lined plaza, improved lighting, updated crosswalks and traffic lanes, an interactive fountain and a bike lane.

Visitors moving from one end of the facility to the other will have opportunities to stop for food, view public art or just sit and enjoy the scenery, while the park space will provide a variety of informal communal green spaces and outdoor event space equipped with the infrastructure needed to host live events, catered affairs and social hours. 

In addition, the park will connect several civic and cultural districts, including the Historic Warehouse District, the Mississippi Riverfront and the French Quarter, all within a short walk for those wishing to explore the City.

The project also includes a multi-modal transportation hub that will accommodate, shuttles, taxis and ride-shares.

Construction is expected to start in the summer beginning with the multi-modal hub, although the exact construction schedule will not be known until the Convention Center’s leadership and the contractor can determine how best to minimize the impact on events. 

The new pedestrian park is part of the city’s $700 million Convention Center District Development Project, slated to add mixed-use developments, retail shops, restaurants and several entertainment, culture and art venues.

Proposals from developers to construct a 1,000-room headquarters hotel attached to the Center, as well as the mixed-use portion of the District, will be issued in April, according to Convention Center officials.

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The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority’s Public Safety Team at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) and the Hynes Convention Center (Hynes) have taken their experiences to develop a comprehensive crisis management and emergency preparedness training program.