Vegas' Container Park a hub for innovation

One of the most imaginative expressions of downtown Las Vegas' recent renaissance is Downtown Container Park -- an innovative open-air shopping center and entertainment venue built from repurposed shipping containers and focused on community involvement.

Opened in December, Container Park features 39 shops, restaurants and bars, as well as an interactive play area and a stage hosting presentations and live performances.

Created on the site of a long-shuttered Motel 6, it's the brainchild of Downtown Project, a group working to transform Vegas into what they describe as "the most community-focused large city in the world."

" were inspired by places like Box Park in London, Proxy in San Francisco and other creative uses of shipping containers," said Maria Phelan, a member of Downtown Project's communications team. "Container Park's small spaces an ideal setting for new entrepreneurs to test their concepts and ideas while incurring fewer startup costs than a traditional brick and mortar shop."

In addition to the 40-foot long shipping containers, durable metal boxes used to ship goods worldwide, there are also 41 Xtreme Cubes -- easy-to-assemble, portable multi-use spaces -- housing boutiques and eateries. Both

are arrayed in variety of shapes and colors, in two- or three-story configurations.

First-time visitors will immediately find themselves face-to-face with the park's outlandish mascot, the Mantis, "a 40-foot art installation from Burning Man that shoots flames from its antennae after sundown," Phelan explained. Children and adults alike will delight in the play area, the Treehouse, which features a 33-foot-long slide sized for kids of all ages.

Many of the retailers in Container Park are locally owned and feature innovative offerings such as modern-look stained glass and natural beef jerky. Restaurants include Pork and Beans, an artisanal look at the ubiquitous meat-and-legume combination.

Container Park also hosts free live performances throughout the day in the spring, fall and winter, with evening shows in the summer months. It also presents occasional ticketed concerts, including the summer "Under the Lights" series.

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