Driving by, it’s clear that Las Vegas’ shuttered Huntridge Theater needs some work — at least a paint job and a repaired marquee.
But when you walk in, you see how much renovation and cleanup really is in order for the World War II-era venue.
Pockmarked walls have broken plaster. Ceilings and walls have hole punctures, and the concert stage is covered with feathers, trash and other items. Sheets of plywood cover a spot on the wall where the heating and air conditioning system used to be — and the HVAC system itself was stripped of its copper, according to City Attorney Brad Jerbic, who has the keys and gave the Las Vegas Review-Journal a tour recently.
Multiple revival plans for the historic venue have come and gone over the years. The Las Vegas City Council this week cleared the way for another — and the buyer figures his redevelopment effort won’t work without additional projects at the property.
Under the plan approved Wednesday, Las Vegas developer J Dapper intends to buy the Huntridge from the Mizrachi family, its longtime owners, for $4 million in a deal facilitated by the city.
Dapper, founder of Dapper Companies, told the council he wants to “restore the theater back to its original glory.” But if he finds out he can’t save the building at the southeast corner of Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway, his interest in buying it “would go away.”
On Thursday he told me he envisions apartments and a restaurant, perhaps a brewery, next to the venue, which is on the national and state registers of historic places.
He said the apartment complex would complement the theater’s design, and he hopes the restaurant would draw patrons whether or not they’re seeing a show at the Huntridge, which he aims to make a hub for local and big-name music acts.
Dapper said he looked at other historic theaters that were saved and renovated, and if a venue gets a multifamily project or offices around it, then “something kind of special happens.”
He also noted apartment construction, which has been heavily concentrated in the suburbs in recent years, is picking up in the valley’s core.
“People definitely want to live downtown, but they also want to live in a nice place,” he said.
Built in 1944 — a thousand years ago by Las Vegas standards — the Huntridge showed movies for decades and was a top concert venue by the 1990s. The Mizrachi family acquired it in 2002 and closed it for renovations in 2004, but amid escalating construction costs, Eli Mizrachi said in 2005 that he and the building were in “limbo.”
Multiple attempts to revive the building came and went. The state of Nevada sued Mizrachi in 2014, claiming his group had breached grant provisions by failing to pay for maintenance work and by keeping the theater closed for years.
They settled the case in 2016, but the state filed court papers in February alleging the owners had failed to comply with the terms, allowing the theater to “fall further” into disrepair.
Dapper said he has an eight-month deadline to close the purchase, but it can be extended, depending on what he finds as he examines the building.
He knows the theater needs a lot of work. But Dapper, who owns other real estate nearby and had expressed interest in buying the venue before, said his desire to acquire the Huntridge “has never waned at all.”
“It’s an exciting time,” he said.