WINSTON-SALEM GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT PARTYING DOWNTOWN
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines just got back from a weeklong Las Vegas vacation. And boy are his eyes tired.
“You wouldn’t believe what they’ve got going on out there!” he said in an uncharacteristic moment of unguarded candor. “Huge casinos. I mean huge! Tons of people walking around, spending money, seeing the sights. It’s crazy!
“If I didn’t have this mayor gig going on,” he said, “I Bellagio! would totally move out there.”
But, inspired by his trip, Joines said he has plans to “bring a little bit of Las Vegas to Winston-Salem.”
First off, he believes the downtown district could benefit from a water feature, such as the fountain display outside the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip.
“There’s no reason why we couldn’t have something like that,” he says. “Water? We have plenty of water — way more than Las Vegas anyway. Did you know it’s in the middle of the desert, but there’s water everywhere!” A set of giant, dancing fountains, he says, could easily be implemented in the green space behind the Crystal Towers apartments, or perhapsa parking lot could be refurbished for the purpose.But if the fountain idea does not gain traction, hesaid the city could at least build an undergroundriver or maybe a giant waterslide.Joines also referenced Vegas’ predilectionfor miniaturized international monuments likethe scaled-down Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel& Casino, replicas of the Sphinx and the GreatPyramid at Giza at the Luxor and New York, NewYork’s caricatured version of the New York Cityskyline.“Heck,” he said, “we’re halfway there on thatone. We already have a miniature Empire StateBuilding.”The Reynolds Building in downtown Winston-Salem was a precursor to the Empire StateBuilding; both were designed and built by thearchitectural firm of Shreve & Lamb.“So we pick up the building from RJR,” hesaid, “don’t worry about the details — I’ll handlethat. We pick that up, prop up a Statue of Liberty,maybe carve out a miniature Central Park, acouple of delis and we’re there.”While in Las Vegas, Joines also had opportunityto travel to that city’s downtown district, wherein the 1990s a giant barrel vault canopy was builtover Fremont Street, where nightly light shows arebroadcast on the LED screen.“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Joines said.“We could totally do that here — I’m thinking rightdown Trade Street, the Arts District.”The nightly light shows, he said, could focus onthe city’s history.“You know,” he said, “sugar cakes, cigarettes,that kind of thing.”Joines admits that transforming downtownWinston-Salem into a reasonable facsimile of LasVegas is a major undertaking, and that in thesecash-strapped times financing could be hard tocome by.“True, Winston-Salem does not have the kindof money that Las Vegas does,” he said. “Most ofthose things are paid for by casinos. I didn’t thinkabout that. Hey — do you think we could get acasino here in Winston-Salem? That would be awesome. I mean, I’m the mayor. Can’t I make something like that happen?” Joines recalled that, at one time, Winston- Salem was the cultural center of the South when the annual tobacco market took place there, and he sees this next chapter in the city’s history as a continuation of that legacy.
“I would love to see that kind of energy downtown again,” he said. “People. Action. Bright lights.
But what we don’t want is legalized prostitution, like I heard they have in High Point. I don’t want people passing out those hooker cards, like I saw on the Strip. I think they call them ‘porn-slappers.’ None of that. I’m thinking more along the lines of a nice, wholesome neon city of which we can all be proud.”
He also said he plans to get back out to Vegas as soon as possible.
“I bought a timeshare out there,” he said, “so I’m going to be a regular fixture as soon as I take care of all this mayor stuff. Look out Caesar’s, here I come!”
´People. Ac tion. Bright lights. But what we don’t want is legalized prostitution, like I heard they have in High Point. I don’t want people passing out those hooker cards, like I saw on the Strip. I think they call them ‘porn-slappers.’ ´“Do you think we could get a casino here?” Joines wondered. “That would be awesome.” Regardless, he says the plan to install a Bellagio-style dancing fountain is a go.
If Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines has his way, the city´s downtown district could soon look like the Las Vegas Strip. “I´ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “We could totally do that here — I´m thinking right down Trade Street”.