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Economy

Las Vegas’ Huntridge Theater a Microcosm of Nevada’s Bigger Economic Issue

It has stood empty and vacant since 2004, a shell of its former self hardly recognizable as the performance arts venue that it used to be during the height of its glory days.

No, we’re not talking about Paris Hilton’s bedroom.

We’re talking about the corner lot on Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard, where the vibrant Huntridge Theater once stood. The sign towering over the abandoned structure still reads Huntridge, but the rusty gates and empty marquee belies the reality: there’s no one home.

Since housing its last rock performance in 2004, this space has stood vacant, left to fall slowing into decline. Owned by the Mizrachis, the 67-year old structure – built in 1944 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places – has recently been denied a reprieve from its decline by the city’s Planning Commission. The issue? The Mizrachis wanted to give the structure a new life as a secondhand store, which requires a special-use permit. By and large, though, neighbors weren’t at all pleased.

Complaints from nearby residents started pouring in, and the negative outcry essentially all boiled down to one mantra: a secondhand store will devalue the neighborhood in an area that’s trying to be more upscale. The city’s Planning Commission ultimately agreed, voting 7-0 against the granting of the permit.

Has anyone seen the corner of Maryland Parkway and Charleston? The reality is that trying and wanting to be upscale is all fine and dandy; however, actually developing the area to that endgame is going to take a lot more than just wishful thinking. It’s a step by step process. The proposed secondhand store, according to the Mizrachis, would have been a haven for selling vintage jewelry and other collectible products, which in all actuality sounds like a step up in terms of improvements over existing nearby properties.

Yet there seems to be a certain stubbornness from nearby residents and the Planning Commission that’s dictating the structure needs to have some intrinsic creative value, like an art museum or community center.

So, let’s get this straight – the city itself of Las Vegas can barely have an art museum to call its own, needing to rely on various artists residency programs to get its art fix, yet nearby residents expect that Huntridge’s old space should be the next artistic hotspot Bellagio?

Time for a reality check: a special use permit would have granted the structure a reprieve from demolition.  Now it stands to be demolished in 2017.

For updates and discussion, visit the Huntridge Theater Fan Page on Facebook.

About Dorian Issock:
Born in France and raised in SoCal, Dorian Issock’s reviews, blogs and other literary tidbits appear in Desert Companion Magazine, The New Colonist, Urban Art, and scores of online destinations across the internet.

Discussion

11 Responses to “Las Vegas’ Huntridge Theater a Microcosm of Nevada’s Bigger Economic Issue”

  1. The owner just wants $$$$$ and continues to BS all and everyone. Please he has truck repair workers on site doing welding at all hours of the day and night. He does not care for the community. Has anyone gone inside the building? He has had the electricity off for years…It once was and now it has gone to waste because of the greed and selfishness of owner.

    Posted by Davi- | May 26, 2012, 4:58 am
  2. Sadly it’s that same “Something is better than nothing” mentality that get’s Historic Vegas landmarks imploded until we have none left and are truly only know as Casino central. I don’t see any logical reason, if the owners actually wanted to be successful, why they choose to shun the community? There are plenty of other opportunities that are far more deserving of such a iconic location. Think outside the box, don’t just get your money & run, the community is tired of being used.

    Posted by Erick | January 27, 2012, 12:31 am
  3. Did you go to the hearing or listen to the neighbors at all? The neighbors pointed out that the last handful of times the Mizrachis were GRANTED permits, they were told that they needed to upkeep the property. They were given $1.5 million for housing a mobile tower in their backyard and the money was to help beautify the property. As you stated. It’s an eyesore. Is it wrong for the community to request that the promised upkeep actually happen before the city hands over another SUP? This seems a bit one-sided.

    Posted by Really | January 26, 2012, 7:16 pm
    • I completely agree – it’s not at all wrong for the community to expect that promised upkeep actually happens. And if it doesn’t, or didn’t, it’s not a stretch to assume that a further SUP might be hampered. In your honest opinion, though, was their upkeep track record the only reason why a special use permit wasn’t granted?

      Surely, there has to be some middle ground, somewhere between putting stronger measures in place that would ensure that upkeep happens and the other end of the spectrum, that of demolishing a 67 year old landmark.

      At least I’m still hopeful there is.

      In any case, your point adds another necessary component to understanding this issue better, and I thank you for it.

      Posted by Dorian Issock | January 27, 2012, 10:46 am
      • In your “research”, did you actually look at the public documents related to this? Unfortunately, it sounds like you did not and I’ll tell you why. Within those documents, you will find what a second hand store is according to the City of Las Vegas. Here you go:
        Secondhand Dealer. A specialty shop which deals solely in one kind of used commodity with no new commodities, or a business in which the sale of secondhand or used articles is incidental to the sale of new articles of the same kind. For purposes of this definition, the sale of secondhand or used articles is deemed to be incidental to the sale of new articles. Used articles may include wearing apparel, furniture, fixtures, appliances, tableware, offices supplies, pictures, paintings, jewelry, cutlery or guns.
        We’re not talking about some antiques here. That would be an antique store. The property shares an alley with a residential neighborhood. The neighborhood has been there since 1944-45. Are you suggesting to those residents that they are stubborn because they don’t want guns bought and sold in their literal backyard? The Planning Commission looks at how the property is doing business while the application process is being conducted. At the time this went before the commission, the LLC was in default, the building had several code violations and the term “blight” was used to describe it. But this doesn’t matter. What mattered is that they already had old, dirty used furniture out in front. They MOVED the city SUP signage behind a gate. These things are documented. They demonstrated a clear disregard for the city, the level playing field that we all want all businesses to adhere and to the community for allowing this iconic property to fall into blighted conditions. I digress, I was talking about research. Did you read the supporting material attached to the Agenda Items? If you had, you would see reasonable, intelligent arguments against this SUP, as well as photos submitted of the property, as well as Mizrachi’s Justification letter. The Justification spells out what they plan to do. Don’t buy into the “special provisions” talk from them. There were no special provisions in writing and the only person that was going to be working there was Ciima herself.
        I’m only representing my view as a resident. There is a whole other contingent that say no to this based on their desire for the property to be arts related. Let’s face it – these people bought a theater. Finding a usage that suits a theater would be the best for this beloved icon.
        I’m not trying to attack you, but a little more research please.

        Posted by Katt | January 27, 2012, 10:08 pm
        • Regarding the secondhand store issue: I mentioned collectibles in this post because that’s what the Mizrachis claimed they would sell.

          The fact is, the term ‘secondhand store’ per your own definition doesn’t EXCLUDE collectibles. If there’s a quibble to be had here, the Mizrachi’s should take it up with Merriam-Webster.

          Secondly, as a patron of the arts, I too would love to see this theater brought back to its former glory in a similar incarnation. That’s the ideal solution, clearly. I also, ideally, don’t want this iconic structure to be demolished. Is it better to raze the whole thing, or find a more temporary solution, such as a store, that would at least give it a stay of execution?

          Posted by Dorian Issock | January 28, 2012, 12:45 pm
          • It’s important for you to understand what is INCLUDED. If they only wish to sell collectibles, there is a Special Use permit for Antiques. Why didn’t they apply for it? Unfortunately, what the Mizrachis say and what they do are seldom the same. They already had old, dirty couches out front before even being given the permit. Photographs tell a conflicting story. I really want you to see them. Please take a look. http://www5.lasvegasnevada.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=966&doctype=Agenda Go to Agenda Item #46, click on it and you can view the supporting material on the right. Look for Submitted at Meeting – Photograghs by Kathleen Kahr. I’m not a photog, just an area resident that wants you to see what I see. These were taken 4 days prior to the Planning Commission meeting. Read the Justification letter too because that’s what they have put in writing. I’ll be interested to read your response.

            Posted by Katt | January 29, 2012, 12:15 pm
          • Thanks, Katt, for helping to flesh out the facts surrounding this sensitive issue.

            First, know that all I intend to do here is spark a dialogue that will hopefully ultimately enlighten readers rather than get into a snarky volleying content which doesn’t behoove anyone. That said, I appreciate your continuing respectful handling of this thread.

            Let’s get to the heart of it; it seems to me that the real issue here is that residents have felt let down by the Mizrachis’ ownership in the past – and I strongly believe that residents have every right to express that discontent, especially if it’s valid.

            I’m getting the sense that no matter what business the Mizrachis install on this corner, it’ll probably be met with some degree of resistance from nearby residents, and again, based on track record, that may be warranted to a degree.

            If I’m off track here, pls. let me know.

            The fact is, they own the structure. Though they may have failed as owners in the eyes of neighbors, they still own it; in other words, we’re stuck with that. We have to figure out a way to make that work.

            City Planning and the Mizrachis can go back and forth with the submission process (the Mizrachis submit, the Planning Commission denies submission) forever, or actually until 2017 when it won’t really matter anymore. Rather than continued down that road, I’d personally prefer to see that stronger measures are put in place that would help force compliance BEFORE demolition happens. Because when THAT happens, all we’ll have left will be memories and the occasional faded photographs…

            Posted by Dorian Issock | January 30, 2012, 1:22 pm

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