A praying mantis stands guard downtown at Container Park

Jan 7, 2014 3:07 AM

One of the most interesting pieces of the massive $350 million Downtown Project developed by Zappos CEO Tony Hseih is Container Park. Located on the corner of Fremont and 7th streets, the shopping/dining/entertainment venue is home to over 30 diverse shops and eateries fit snuggly into individual “containers” of approximately 250 square feet.

When the project first began in October 2012, the stores consisted of used shipping containers, since they presented an inexpensive form of construction – hence the name Container Park. But as development continued it became just as cost effective to build container-like buildings from scratch so there is a mixture of both at CP.

As you enter Container Park you are greeted by a 55-foot tall metal, fire-shooting praying mantis sitting on top of a large truck. However, the fire part – which shoots out of the insect’s antennae – is reserved for special occasions only. But it is still an impressive sculpture even without the fire and was dazzling passersby both young and old the day we were there.

Next to the mantis is a large, white dome building that looks a bit like an igloo. Known as the Catalyst Dome, it is a 360-degree video projection space. We were told the panels change color at night, and the dome itself will offer entertainment for the entire family.

In the center of Container Park is a large interactive play area featuring a fantastic looking tree house with a 33-foot tall slide. There is also a wet zone, which we are sure will be very popular in the warmer months.

At the far end of the Park is a stage that is used on an almost daily basis to present a wide variety of entertainment, including music performances, children’s programming, outdoor fitness classes, variety acts and more. You can see the line-up for January at their website: http://downtowncontainerpark.com/events/

If you’d like to get a bite to eat, you can stop at Big Ern’s BBQ, Bin 702, which offers a large selection of wine on tap along with cheese and meat plates, salads and paninis; Pinches Tacos, Pork & Beans, serving, you guessed it, pork and bean dishes plus several beers on tap; or Simply Pure, a vegan and raw food eatery. If you are simply thirsty you might want to try The Boozery, which offers beer and “strong, Southern-accented drinks and spirits.”

Then there is the shopping, which as most of you know, is one of our favorite pastimes. There is an eclectic assortment of shops from 702DTLV (trendy accessories, fun home décor, unique gifts) to Blackbird Gallery (work of some of LV’s emerging artists) to Cupkates (homemade sweet treats) to Trikke Las Vegas (three-wheeled urban mobility) to Winky Designs (fun, fashionable wristwatches) and much, much more.

Even though the shops are small, the proprietors are adept at displaying a large assortment of products. It seemed like just when we thought we’d seen everything in a particular store something else would catch our eye.

But after you’ve become familiar with the various stores, don’t adopt a been-there-done-that attitude. CP was designed and developed for start-up businesses. Some, of course, may not make it. But hopefully most will be in the category of succeeding so well they need to expand and move on to bigger digs, which means, of course, they will be replaced by new start-ups. This built-in turnover concept is bound to keep the Park fresh and interesting.

TURNER ON TAP: If you are going to be near the Commerce Casino in California next Wednesday (Jan. 15) you might want to stop in and listen to GT contributor Robert Turner speak on the game of Omaha at Roger Rodd’s 8 p.m. poker class.

Turner, well known and respected in the world of poker, introduced Omaha hold’em to Bill Boyd many years ago. Boyd liked it so much he put it into play at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. From there its popularity grew and it is now dealt in poker rooms far and wide.

In addition to being an expert on Omaha, Turner is also a formidable poker player having cashed 28 times in the World Series of Poker. He also won the bracelet in the WSOP’s 1993 $1,500 seven card stud event.

If you go, don’t forget to take along a pencil and paper; for sure you will want to take notes.

See you around town.

Eileen DiRocco is the owner and publisher of GamingToday, the bible for gaming news “you can bet on.” Contact Eileen at [email protected].

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