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Today marks the Grand Opening of a highly significant and hugely symbolic project, another sign of Las Vegas’s economic recovery. Downtown Summerlin officially opens today, and one of the anchor tenants chose to Expect More with Hirschi Masonry.

From a steel shell that sat for years to the signature landmark it is destined to become, Downtown Summerlin has been a highly-anticipated project.

But this project is way more than a mall. It began as an economic messenger heralding the dawn of Southern Nevada’s Great Recession. The unfinished, nine-story steel frame of its 200,000-square-foot, Class A office building loomed for six years over the 215 Beltway north of Sahara Avenue — a symbol of the city’s devastated economy.

Today, the project signals the downturn’s end. The 2,000-employee development is the biggest off-Strip project to open in nearly a decade: You’d have to go back to the 2007 debut of the 1.5 million-square-foot Town Square, on Las Vegas Boulevard at the Beltway, to find anything comparable.

“That’s a long time to go without a big, new project for a community that’s geared for growth,” said Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with local research and economics consulting firm Applied Analysis.

As with many of the other projects signaling the rebirth of Las Vegas, Hirschi Masonry, the leading masonry contractor in the Las Vegas area, was a part of making the project happen.

Hirschi Masonry provided commercial masonry work for the Dillard’s department store building, one of the most important tenants occupying one of the most vital buildings within Downtown Summerlin. We installed the masonry façade on the lower portion of the building. In addition, we erected the retaining wall on the Dillard’s property.

The importance of Downtown Summerlin extends beyond its effect on the local economy. The rebirth of the project is likely to have an influence on the psyche of the area. And not just in the short term but with a lasting impact.

“Just the fact that you’re seeing reinvestment, particularly in a project that had stalled and was nothing more than a steel cage for a few years, is extremely important from both a psychological and economic standpoint,” Aguero said. “Is it a harbinger of things to come, or some metaphorical corner that reflects we’re an economy in recovery and not in recession? All of those things are true. Think of what a partially constructed, empty building means. People who drove by Downtown Summerlin saw it every day. It was a symbol of just how difficult a time we went through as a community and an economy. Now it represents the opposite — a reflection that the market has turned.”

Beyond its economic implications, Downtown Summerlin’s shops, restaurants and entertainment venues mark the first phase of a grand experiment in local urban design, the seed of The Howard Hughes Corp.’s plan to create a second regional downtown. What the 400-acre plot along the 215 Beltway between Charleston Boulevard and Sahara Avenue ultimately becomes — and whether it can point the way to more development and a stronger local economy — will depend on how quickly Las Vegans respond.

Hirschi Masonry is proud to be a part of such worthwhile projects and the contribution that our commercial masonry work has been able to provide. The last few years have been very exciting for Las Vegas and for Hirschi Masonry. We’re even more excited for what the remainder of this year and the coming years have in store.