Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas will close in January

The Western Hotel’s glory days were long gone, its hotel rooms shuttered.

The casino floor remained, touting $1 craps games and $1 snacks.

But owner Tamares Real Estate on Tuesday put the final nail in the Western’s coffin, announcing that the casino is shutting its doors Jan. 16 after 41 years of operation.

The closure may not be permanent. Tamares’ director of Las Vegas properties, Jonathan Jossel, said in a statement Tuesday that the company will “review redevelopment plans” while the downtown property at 899 Fremont St., is closed. Tamares earlier this year oversaw $35 million in renovations at the Western Hotel’s sister property, the Plaza. The company also owns the Las Vegas Club.

“We remain extremely confident about the long-term success of downtown Las Vegas,” Jossel said. “The closure of the Western does not change the commitment Tamares has to the area. In fact, just the opposite is true.”

The Western Hotel’s 90 employees may be able to find work at the Las Vegas Club or the Plaza, Jossel said. All workers were notified Tuesday that they could be unemployed in the next 60 days.

About 38 Western Hotel employees are members of the Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165.

“It’s sad to see the Western close,” Culinary President Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement.

Arguello-Kline said the union will encourage Western workers to attend training opportunities at the Culinary Training Academy.

“We will do everything we can to support members through this tough time,” the union president said.

Tamares said the Western’s closure was a result of “decreased demand at this location,” but some downtowners fear the closure could negatively affect downtown’s resurgence.

Michael Crandall, business affairs director for the Siegel Group, a company that counts the Gold Spike downtown among its holdings, said the closure would be a blow to the area.

Among the worst potential consequences, Crandall said, is that a darkened Western Hotel will choke off economic growth in the burgeoning Fremont East entertainment district.

“I think it is bad for that area it is closing,” Crandall said. “That is a big piece of property to be dark.”

However, Crandall said the area doesn’t draw the customer base needed to generate the kind of business it would take to pay for the millions of dollars it could take to make the Western Hotel viable.

“No matter what that place needs money,” he said.

If the Fremont East Entertainment District spreads further east, the Western Hotel could stand to benefit if reopened, said David G. Schwartz, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research.

Schwartz said the Western Hotel’s closure may push its customers to other neighborhood casinos.

“Traditionally, it’s just been a little isolated there (on Fremont Street),” Schwartz said. “Some people who might have been going there might end up going to the El Cortez or other Tamares properties.”

The casino, located on Fremont Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, was built by Jackie Gaughan and Mel Exber in 1970. Barrick Gaming acquired the property, along with the Plaza, Gold Spike and Las Vegas Club, in 2004 and planned to turn the Western Hotel into a Latino destination resort, the company at the time told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Barrick in 2005 passed control of the property to Tamares. The company contracted PlayLV to operate the Western Hotel.

No redevelopment plans were ever put into place.

Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at
cmcgarry@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.
Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report.

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