Mayor wants to raze what's left of Moulin Rouge


The Moulin Rouge property, once an acclaimed hotel-casino that got international attention, is a "blight" and a "monstrosity" that needs to be razed to the ground, two Las Vegas officials said Wednesday.

"It may be safe. It may not be a nuisance anymore," said a frustrated Mayor Oscar Goodman, noting that the new owners have boarded up buildings, cleaned up litter and fenced the property. "But it is a blight."

Councilman Ricki Barlow, whose ward includes the property, agreed.

"I doesn't help the neighborhood," he said. "It does not do that corridor any justice whatsoever.

"I would like to see it taken down as soon as possible."

Both men asked city staff to collect bids to see how much the demolition would cost.

The Moulin Rouge, on West Bonanza Road near Interstate 15, opened for a short time in 1955, but in that brief period attracted stars and notoriety because it was Las Vegas' first racially integrated casino.

Later years were not as kind. Hotel rooms were converted to apartments, which fell into disrepair. A 2003 fire destroyed the casino, and a fire earlier this year destroyed a 40-unit building on the grounds.

Most of what's left has been gutted and boarded up, although there are a handful of residents in condominiums on the north side of the property.

The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Las Vegas Historic Property Register, so any demolition plans would have to go before the Las Vegas Historic Preservation Commission.

Barlow said it's "highly unlikely" that gaming will return to the property, which is in a largely industrial area.

He said that whatever is eventually built there needs to bring jobs to the area and be long-lasting. Other than that, his criteria is "anything but what it is right now."

"I'm open to a development that makes sense to the community," he said. "I'm open to any new buyer or owner who's looking to come and bring a development that makes sense."

Over the years, several developers have sought to re-create the Moulin Rouge, the latest being Moulin Rouge Properties, which borrowed money in 2006 and 2007 to buy the parcel.

Financing to redevelop the site wasn't forthcoming, however, and the lenders -- Las Vegas Apartment Lenders and Olympic Coast Investment, both based in Washington -- foreclosed on it.

The new owners have made it clear that they're not interested in being developers and are only looking for a buyer.

As with other city interventions on distressed properties, the bill for any demolition work the city does could be attached to the property as a lien that would be repaid when the property is sold.

It wasn't clear what might be done with the Moulin Rouge tower, which survived both fires. No one talked about it at Wednesday's meeting.

The famous multistory sign that stood in front of the hotel-casino was removed before the latest fire and is in storage at the Neon Museum.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

 

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