Photo: Aimee Groth, Business Insider
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is spending $350 million of his own money
to revitalize downtown Las Vegas.
Click here to see his big investments >
It started with the idea to move Zappos’ corporate headquarters from suburban Henderson, NV, into the old City Hall in Vegas — the full transition will happen next fall, costing $40 million —but turned into a much bigger vision.
Hsieh is investing $200 million into real estate and residential properties, $50 million into tech startups, $50 million into small businesses, and $50 million into arts, education and culture.
Essentially, he wants to create one of the world’s next greatest cities.
We recently spent a week in downtown Las Vegas with Hsieh and his colleagues at Downtown Project— the organisation that is managing the investments — and we were impressed by what we saw.
The white building on the right is City Hall, where Zappos is moving its corporate headquarters in Fall 2013.
A few blocks away is the Ogden, the luxury apartment complex where Hsieh and many Downtown Project employees live.
He often hosts parties at his place, for Downtown Project and Zappos employees, and guests from around the world.
One of his walls is filled with Post-It notes marked up with ideas for downtown Vegas. That's Zach Ware, who's in charge of the $40 million renovation of City Hall.
Last month Hsieh bought a $1.4 million, 12,000-sq. ft. house nearby, which he'll use to host parties as well.
Developer Andrew Donner, in white, handles most of the real estate transactions for Downtown Project. Sandi Herrera, next to Hsieh, worked on the $1.4 million deal.
Many of the startup founders, including Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty, live and work in the Ogden.
Michael Cornthwaite, second from right, owns Downtown Cocktail Room and The Beat Coffeehouse. He's a huge reason why Hsieh is investing in downtown Vegas.
Container Park, an open space surrounded by retailers and other small businesses, is a big part of the plan.
Downtown Project bought the rights to First Friday, a huge arts festival that attracts thousands of Las Vegans.
Hsieh meets regularly with his First Friday team. To his left is Fred Mossler, a Sr. VP with Zappos.
There's Fred again, at First Friday with his fiancée Megan Boyd, who heads up the Las Vegas Fashion Lab.
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