Why has the Neonopolis mall in Downtown Las Vegas been a commercial failure?

According to this article, and also the wikipedia entry for it, the new mall (2002) called Neonopolis has been a commercial failure; it is located on the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas.

I remember hearing about how downtown was being revitalized–this for years. But yet even while the economy was good, the mall seems to be a failure “mostly empty, save for a restaurant and pool hall anchoring one ground floor corner, and a sparsely attended movie theater complex on its top floor.”

Why did this thing fail so bad? Why is downtown las vegas such a money pit? I would have thought even with just a small proportion of the Strip tourists, the mall would have done better. Why is downtown going down?

Because the area between The Strip and Fremont Street is really, really scary at night and that puts people off visiting.

I used to visit Vegas reguarly for trade shows (CES NAB) and prefered to stay downtown. I don’t gamble and would spend the entire show walking - the last thing I wanted to do was walk some more. I wished there were a theater that I could visit and have an inexpensive evening sitting down. Just about the time I attended my last trade show, the ads for Neonopolis appeared, and I planned to visit as soon as it was built. I returned to Vegas last year, get there and discovered that it had been built and had already failed! It was if they had erected a brand new slum. They had intended that it would have the glitter of the Fremont Street Experience part of the street, but instead got the sleeze of the rest of Fremont Street.

Damn shame. Nice enough theaters. Saw a movie while I was there.

It’s not exactly convenient to get to, either. You can’t park anywhere with a safe walk from your vehicle to the mall area. Taxis can’t drop you off anywhere conveniently close and safe. The openings to get into the mall area were almost invisible from places tourists were likely to be looking from. Compare that to a successful mall, like the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shoppes or the Fashion Show Mall in Vegas, where there are a million places to enter from, the malls are glaringly visibly obvious from a mile away, there’s two hundred thousand tourists walking past them every week, and the surrounding areas are actually nice and safe places to be. The only businesses that can make a living in downtown Vegas are casinos.

Last month my wife and I went to LV for my birthday. We stayed on the strip, but we decided to go to Fremont street for one evening.

Wow. In stark contrast to the hotels and casinos on (and just off) the strip, downtown really seemed old and run down. As long as you stay around Fremont Street it was fairly safe, but you wouldn’t want to wander too far off. And unlike the strip, there was a visible police presence there to keep the peace.

I know why people like going down there, the gambling, food and rooms are cheap compared to the strip, but I couldn’t imagine staying there for more than a few hours. The Fremont Street Experience was a real let down, and the atmosphere was not suitable for small children, not that it mattered to us. (For example, as this was around Halloween there was an “exhibit” of a man getting electrocuted in front of a casino).

As bigger and better places go up on the strip the downtown area becomes even less inviting.

I doubt there is anything they can really do to draw middle to high-income tourists, especially those with kids, away from the strip at this point.

Should it be called the “Necropolis” mall?

Malls are soooooo 20th Century.

That’s about it.

Somewhat similar is the experience of St. Louis Centre, a downtown mall located just outside the downtown convention center. The downtown workers would eat lunch there, but they didn’t shop. The tourists didn’t shop there, either.

The mall lasted for 17 years, but it was pretty much a failure after about year 6.

Some downtown malls have worked though. I’ve not been there in years, but the one in Indianapolis seemed to be thriving (though I was there during a trade show).

Pretty much what everyone else has said. Go to Fremont Street and you’ll know why.

It’s Las Vegas. They just need to rebrand it as “the CSI Experience.”