West Wendover is building a downtown from the ground up

WEST WENDOVER, Nevada -- It's an ambitious project.

This border community known as a quick getaway for Utahns to gamble and party, is building a downtown from the ground up.

The area around West Wendover's downtown development plan. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"It's going to have a little bit of everything," said Brenda Claiborne, a realtor who works in West Wendover and across the border in Wendover, Utah. "It's going to have retail, places where you can sit down and eat. Right now, we don't have a lot of restaurants in our town outside the casinos."

West Wendover's downtown plans have been 17 years in the making. The community has never had a centralized area. Right now, businesses are scattered around. The casinos dominate the landscape along Wendover Boulevard.

"Most downtowns are 50, 60 years old," said West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona. "So we have that unique opportunity to start from scratch."

It's located on the far western edge of town. City Hall anchors the development to the east. It stretches west and south around the famous "Wendover Will" landmark. The plans call for a new community center, parks, an ampitheater, new housing and retail. Mayor Corona said there would be no gaming allowed in the downtown development.

An image of the West Wendover downtown development plan. (Image courtesy West Wendover City)

The city recently got a half-million dollar community development grant from Nevada to start development. They will purchase the land for the development from the Bureau of Land Management by the end of the year and break ground in 2019. Revenue bonds and grants will cover most of the multi-million dollar project.

"We need a downtown. We need that community gathering place," the mayor said. "It will be great for the people who are already here and it will also bring people into the community."

Claiborne said it will bring something else to the area that's desperately needed -- housing.

"As the local realtor for Utah and Nevada, we do have a housing crunch," she said. "We've got currently on the market, only three single-family homes on the Utah side and three townhomes on the Nevada side."

Mayor Corona said he doesn't worry the downtown development will change West Wendover's identity as a gambling destination for Utahns. He said he believed it would be a new attraction.

"We'll always be that casino border town," he told FOX 13. "But this will be something to give us a little something else."