The parcel formerly known as Union Park seemed to have a lot going for it. It was the last 61 acres of undeveloped land in downtown Las Vegas. It was deeply personal to Mayor Oscar Goodman, who affectionately referred to is as the “Jewel of the Desert.” He wanted to see it developed before he left his last term in office, and his will and passion were going to make it happen.
But 2008 was hard times for Las Vegas. Ravaged by the housing bust, with foreclosures skyrocketing, it seemed very unlikely that Union Park would gain traction and really happen. To complicate the situation it was a brownfield, blighted, had a history of starts and stops and was located in struggling downtown, far away from the glamour of the Las Vegas Strip.
Cecilian Worldwide was engaged to lead a politically sensitive, consensus-necessary group comprised of three parties: The City of Las Vegas, Newland Communities, and a slew of renowned commercial developers, all of whom had a great opportunity–and perhaps and even more to lose. They needed a company who could take them through the gauntlet. They called us, and off we went to live in downtown Las Vegas for two months.
We used in-depth Dirt to perform a thorough stakeholder analysis by speaking with all the people who mattered. The list included the Mayor, the City Council, Robert McLeod - Chairman of Newland Communities, Forest City Development, Famed Chef Charlie Palmer who was building his first hotel in Las Vegas, architects, philanthropists, old Vegas business guys and competitors. We completed over 40 interviews in total.
With a project of this size and impact, everyone had an opinion on the direction. Our intelligence gathering also involved getting intel from local business owners, artists, taxi drivers, doormen and residents – the true grassroots influencers.
The interviews revealed that the name “Union Park” was suspect because interviewees were not able to link it back to the historic railroad and were instead commenting on the contentious relationship between labor unions and local hotels. We chose to name the community after one of it’s greatest assets, The Smith Center For the Performing Arts, the $470,000,000 facility that had just begun its capital campaign. Our repositioning, rebranding and renaming work was the catalyst for making the community a serious destination for arts, culture and science. A new logo and exciting creative brought the vision to life.
Anchored by The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Frank Gehry designed Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Symphony Park has pumped new life into downtown.
We were asked to include a report that measured success with this case study. While we don’t have traditional marketing analytics for Symphony Park, the following benchmarks serve to demonstrate how well the brand worked:
• The Cleveland Clinic has chosen to enter a co-brand relationship with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Gehry building is finished.
• The Smith Center raised over $470,000,000 prior to opening it’s doors this year to rave reviews as one of the finest performance venues in America.
• Core commercial partners have continued moving forward because they see the value in a place that is the only real downtown neighborhood in Las Vegas.
• Symphony Park is a vision that maybe only Mayor Goodman could have imagined, a jewel rising from the blighted desert. We invite you to go see it and measure it against other urban infill projects.
See our creative work for Symphony Park by clicking on the thumbnails below.