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Preservation at a price

A plan’s afoot to save the historic Huntridge Theatre by turning it into a commercial center

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The Huntridge staged it’s final concert in July 2004. Now, it’s being re-imagined as a commercial center.

The next time you’re standing in the historic Huntridge Theatre, you might be picking up a pair of flip-flops. Not at a band’s merchandise table; the 44-year-old building at the corner of Charleston and Maryland isn’t coming back as a concert venue. Last Wednesday at a neighborhood meeting, owner Eli Mizrachi unveiled plans to turn the structure and its adjacent property into a 38,000-square-foot retail and office complex, which he hopes to open sometime in 2009.

“We’ve tried to keep everything in character with the Huntridge,” Mizrachi told some 25 residents from the surrounding area in the dining room at Rainbow’s End natural foods grocery. “We’re saving about 95 percent of the structure—the barrel roof, the tower, the lobby—and we’re popping out storefronts along the sides and adding a second floor for office space. It’s so simple. We should have thought of it from the beginning.”

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The Huntridge Theatre

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From the Archives
What's next for the Huntridge Theatre? (1/26/06)
Aging gracefully (10/7/04)
City of dead venues (4/27/06)

The news—that a hall that once hosted Marlene Dietrich and Abbott & Costello in its movie days and Beck and the Beastie Boys during its concert era would be sectioned off into retail stores—drew a smattering of disappointment. “It’s a glorified strip mall,” Michael Hanratty, president of the Southridge Neighborhood Association, said later. “Basically what he’s doing is saving the façade, but if he could just preserve the theater inside somehow and build his shopping center around it, that would be great.”

However, most of those present applauded word that the iconic structure might open its doors in any capacity again. “The plans are fabulous,” Brian “Paco” Alvarez, curator of the Las Vegas News Bureau, said of the renderings created by Brandon Sprague of Aptus Architecture. “When I saw them they gave me goose bumps.”

In March, Mizrachi inquired about repaying the state $1.5 million in back grant money in order to strip the Huntridge of the covenants that protect the site—listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Nevada State Register of Historic Places since the early 1990s—from demolition through 2017. He said he was told to continue trying to find a new purpose for the theater, which has fallen into severe disrepair and has attracted homeless throngs to its back parking lot since staging its final concert in July 2004. “They said, ‘Explore your options further,’” Mizrachi said. “[So] I don’t have any plans to tear it down.”

Still, he conceded his timing could scarcely be worse economically, and that an inability to sign on at least a couple of significant tenants could shelve the project, which he expects to cost him more than $5 million to complete. “In a perfect world, we’d have Starbucks on the corner,” he said, referring to one of two proposed pad buildings not connected to the existing Huntridge structure. “But I’ll take anything and everything right now. We’re thinking $1.50 to $3 per square foot, but right now, I’m pretty negotiable.”

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is Las Vegas Weekly's Managing Editor, having previously served as Arts & Entertainment Editor, Music Editor and a ...

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