I like downtown Henderson. I really do. Most people who live outside of the immediate area probably aren’t aware that Henderson, Nev. even has a downtown to speak of, unless you’ve lived in Henderson and had to pay a utility bill or appear in court. But it does, replete with a city hall, a courthouse, an arts pavilion, a convention center, and as my most recent contribution to Vegas Seven reflects, a wounded-but-healing commercial district … all along Water Street.
The Water Street District isn’t much to look at, and doesn’t have much to do … right now. What it does have — much like Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas about a decade ago — is a rich history and a small number of individuals invested in its future. It also has a city redevelopment agency that’s learned from its hasty decisions made pre-recession, carefully weighing promises by wide-eyed developers while providing a nurturing, welcoming, supportive environment for small business owners.
One of the best coffee shops in town is there (as I’ve written about before), one of the valley’s favorite bakeries, and the area’s only candy making supplier. The Gold Mine Tavern is a local drinking hole AND live music destination (throwing its first full-day festival just a few weeks ago). There’s a farmers market. There are free concerts and art events. So what’s missing?
Guess you’ll have to read my cover story to find out. I spent the last half-year researching it, getting to know a lot of new faces along the way. I also illustrated both the cover for this issue and the editorial comic that accompanies the article inside. While it’s not my first cover story for Seven, it IS my first cover illustration, and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. Hope you agree.
I plan to continue keeping an eye on Henderson’s own Main Street, U.S.A., and while my article was written objectively, the underdog-lover in me is rooting for Water Street. It could be the quiet, friendly, small-town alternative to the crazy boom and drama bubbling up in downtown Vegas. But only if people want it.