Henderson's Downtown Development - Desertion

Henderson is where I grew up. I think it's fair to say, compared to the current city boundaries, I knew the town in it's infancy. I spent a lot of time, as a kid, in the original neighborhood (housing for the original Magnesium factory workers). It wasn't the highfalutin areas of Green Valley, Anthem, and whatever the next developer wants to call their fortified complex of stucco homes. Growing up in the southwest in the 1990s-2000s exposed me to tremendous growth including Henderson becoming the second largest city in the state (Sorry Reno... well not really). It's safe to say the development leading to the size was not good. The entire valley fell, and still falls, victim to the fast and loose development that leads to sprawl. In Henderson, it's clear the city wants to improve some of the deserted areas largely focusing on downtown, but unfortunately it's not based on any urban design logic or even a skimming of The Death and Life of Great American Cities Wikipedia article. The latest version suggest is the same old idea ten fold.

The strategy calls for the leveling all the current fabric (buildings) and persuading developers to make a new great place (because new has to be better, right?). A stroll down Water street makes one wonder if the city was bombed out. Most of the buildings I knew as a kid are non existent  and largely empty lots with and chain link fences.


Anyone who has escaped the development standard of sprawl can tell you a great downtown street will have a lot of commercial buildings. Slightly more research suggests buildings have to be continuous along the street front, a gap for a parking lot or bad proportioned building can throw everything off for pedestrians. Unfortunately the city is implementing the opposite and, well, the results show little progress on the hopes for a nice downtown.

Downtown Henderson could be a great place and I hope one day it can turn around, but using the same formula won't work.

The specifics on the city's plan can be found here.

A photo album featuring empty lots of downtown can be found here.