They have yet to launch their crowdfunding campaign, and already the partners behind Huntridge Revival, LLC must feel like they’re halfway to their goal. Last Thursday, news of that group’s plan to restore and reopen the historic Huntridge Theatre—posted exclusively on lasvegasweekly.com—drew local enthusiasm usually reserved for, well, nothing, really. The story broke site records for first-day and first-week Facebook “likes” (more than 6,000 at press time) and also drew more than 90 reader comments, most of them highly supportive of the initial details set forth by Life Is Beautiful Festival founder Rehan Choudhry and Downtown Las Vegas mainstay Michael Cornthwaite (who will team with third principal Joey Vanas, managing partner of First Friday). “Great news,” “Let’s do this” and “Shut up and take my money” were common sentiments, and several respondents stepped forward, offering to donate time and materials to the effort.
That burst of activity was striking, but support for a Huntridge Theatre comeback should come as no great surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention during its near-decade of inactivity. The building, which from 1944 to 2004 served first as a groundbreaking movie theater and then a beloved music venue before falling into disrepair, appeals to a variety of Las Vegans for a variety of reasons. Nearby residents hope its revival will push Downtown’s Fremont Street-centered resurgence in the direction of their neighborhoods. Preservationists pray its rehabilitation can turn the tide on a tradition that has turned most of the city’s key landmarks to dust. And music fans stand ready to return to the spot where many grew up watching Fugazi, Tool, the Beastie Boys and many others play live.
Lots of questions remain to be answered in the coming months, including the cost of the project, how—and by whom, exactly—it will be financed and what it will look like when completed (Choudhry has already said the main room will remain music-focused, and promised “surprises” across the remainder of the property). But if the men of Huntridge Revival were looking for a quick show of hands from those likely to hop onboard, they got a pretty clear signal last week. Las Vegans seem eager to help the Huntridge rise again. They’ve just been waiting for someone to lead the way.