Tony Hsieh: Reinvesting in cities

Downtown Project

I wonder how many CEOs have considered the move that Link Exchange cofounder and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is making?

Ditch the office park. Forget the corporate campus. Move all the staff downtown. Reinvest in cities, in walkable neighborhoods. Accelerate opportunities for collisions (of ideas), community formation, and co-learning.

Hsieh’s campus vision, as described in the Downtown Project slide above and in his “City as a Startup” talk, was inspired by New York University, in the heart of Manhattan. The project aims to invest $350 million in downtown Las Vegas.

From a December 21st editorial (“Downtown visionary“) in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Every city in America pushing for downtown investment should be so fortunate to have someone as motivated, capable and wealthy as Mr. Hsieh to make things happen. …

The lone shortcoming of Mr. Hsieh’s campaign? By now he should have some high-profile help. He needs other private-sector partners in his work. Who’ll step forward to join him?

From a December 20th article (“Hsieh makes $45 million in property deals downtown”) in the Casino City Times:

With new deals in place for about $45 million in downtown Las Vegas property, the real estate buying phase of Zappos chief Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project is nearly complete.

Subsidiaries of The Downtown Project, Hsieh’s vehicle for reviving downtown Las Vegas, closed deals this week for 14 properties just east of Las Vegas Boulevard.

More in the Verge talk and on the Downtown Project website.

  • Steve Gutmann 26 Feb 2013, 10:04 am

    Here’s an idea for a “private sector partner”: Google.

    Tony Hsieh should connect with the Google’s autonomous vehicle team about making Las Vegas the test site for autonomous vehicle car-sharing. Nevada has already passed laws to make the cars legal, and the cars are evolving/improving very, very quickly.

    Quite a lot has already been written about the transformative potential of car-sharing sans drivers (see recent 6-part series in Forbes), and it’s pretty mind-blowing:

    As nutty as it may sound, driverless car-sharing could transform cities in ways that most people haven’t ever considered: Sebastian Thun, the lead engineer on the driverless car project at Stanford, believes that they can achieve a 90% reduction in parking requirements; way less traffic; 90% reduction in accidents; huge reductions is personal mobility costs; lots of close-in (former parking lot) space available for redevelopment.

    Also, these cars’ availability would probably become a big tourist draw.

    • Howard Silverman 26 Feb 2013, 10:09 am

      Thanks for the update, Steve!

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