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Las Vegas' 'Evangelical Urbanist' Steps Down From Bleeding Downtown Project

Tony Hsieh's visionary plan for the city's off-strip core seems to be imploding, leaving followers disillusioned.
Hsieh's downtown Las Vegas Container Park.
Hsieh's downtown Las Vegas Container Park. Flickr/somewhatfrank

Zappos CEO and "evangelical urbanist" Tony Hsieh has stepped down from his role as leader of Las Vegas' Downtown Project, and 30 additional staff members were laid off yesterday. A statement explains the cuts as an aim to "restructure ... operations and focus on follow-on investments."

Seeded by Hsieh's own $350 million, the Downtown Project is a redevelopment group aimed at turning Las Vegas' off-strip urban core into a kind of alt-wonderland. Since 2012, "DTP," as it's known to insiders, has purchased some 60 acres of property in the area, funding restaurants, bars, shops, bakeries, a record store, a hardware hacking center, and a $40 million outdoor mall built from shipping containers. A source close to the project told Re/Code that many of these new businesses were "bleeding money."