LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The air over Las Vegas this week may be heavy and humid, but on east Fremont Street that same air was rife with anticipation.
“Now with 1,800 employees moving in, you know with that kind of critical mass, everybody downtown is going to see more business,” said business owner Lance Johns.
Johns owns Atomic Liquors on East Fremont and Ninth. Named for the then-active Nevada testing site, the newly renovated drinking establishment boasts the oldest non-casino liquor license in Las Vegas.
It has survived through downtown highs and many long years of downtown lows.
Johns doesn't envision his type of patron changing with the arrival of Zappos
“We still think we are going to get the same clientele we are getting now; we are going to get a little bit of hipsters, a little bit of techies, a bit of professionals, just a wide range of people,” Johns said.
More than 60 years ago patrons of Atomic Liquors used to stand up here on the roof gazing north hoping to catch a glimpse of a mushroom shaped cloud.
Now Johns and other entrepreneurs are gazing west down Fremont Street towards the old city hall-- hoping to see an influx of young, urban dwellers with expendable cash on hand.
“This influx is really great for downtown, but I think downtown has come a long way for several years before Zappos,” said restaurateur Jenna Morton.
Morton and her husband own La Comida, a new, urban upscale restaurant on 6th Street and Fremont. She says what attracted her to downtown was the cumulative energy and vision of multiple investors
“Collective redevelopment...and so I think it is something that we are all doing together, and I think that is one of the things we find so enjoyable about being down here: there's this team spirit,that we are all in this together,” Morton said.
The Morton family has developed such Las Vegas institutions as Rain, Nine, and the Ghost Bar, but feel the spirit downtown is unique
“Definitely a sense of community. that has been building over a long period of time,” Morton said. “I think it was already here and now it has kind of gotten a shot in the arm.”
“It's just an exciting time to be downtown,” Johns said.