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Is Naked City ready to get dressed up?

Updated June 9, 2023 - 11:41 am

Naked City is set to dress up as the first residential project in the area in decades has a green light and its developer is banking on the area turning the corner from its scandalous past.

The Philly at 215 will be just northeast of The Strat, across the street from the new Atomic Golf, which is expected to open sometime before November. It will be the first residential development in decades (at least 65 years according to a public records search) in the Naked City neighborhood around the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, according to developer David Raanan.

The Las Vegas Planning Commission approved the project in January and he hopes to break ground in early 2024.

Raanan said the idea first came to him when he moved into Allure – located at 200 W. Sahara Avenue – and went for a bike ride one day.

“I knew this area was primed for something big,” said Raanan. “This used to be the place people loved in the ‘50s, you would have the showgirls tanning outside naked, which is where the name comes from originally.”

Michael Green, an associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the origin of the neighborhood’s name is up for debate.

“There’s a question of how it got its name,” he said. “Because it consisted of a lot of apartment complexes and the story is a lot of employees from the Strip lived there because it was close and allegedly showgirls would lounge naked outside to work on their tans and there’s been a lot of back and forth if they really were. And of course there was a show called Naked City and the reference was it was the type of area that, if not blighted, was at least raunchy and wild.”

Over the years, Green said, “I think it’s safe to say that the area declined socio-economically” but now could be ripe for a rebound as the developers hope.

The Philly at 215 (it’s street address will be 215 W. Philadelphia Avenue) will have 87 units, with 81 of them being studios and six being one bedrooms. The kicker is there will be only 46 parking stalls, and Raanan said part of the idea is to target a new generation of Strip workers who want to live close to their places of employment.

Glenn Plantone, the owner of VIP Realty Group and the manager of Nevada New Builds who is overseeing the The Philly at 215, said they were able to convince the city to drastically reduce the number of parking spots usually allocated for such a project.

“We realized the niche of this market is that most people don’t have cars or need cars,” he said. “About 50 percent of the prospective occupants are working on the Strip, at Strip hotels, they can Uber, they can walk, they can bicycle.”

Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, whose ward includes Naked City and the project site, said she has seen growth and redevelopment all over her jurisdiction — which loosely covers downtown and the east valley — since she took office in June 2019.

Diaz said new businesses are opening within the Charleston neighborhood as well as in the government and Arts District, including Civic Plaza, Las Vegas Boulevard public works project and the recently reopened East Las Vegas Community Center.

Centrally located areas of Las Vegas have seen several new pockets of projects in recent years, which includes such redevelopments as Symphony Park, which is set to break ground on the first residential high rise project in Las Vegas in years.

Diaz said a whole host of projects are slated for 2023 in her area. She noted the city has acquired the operating contract for the Desert Pines Golf Course and will be redeveloping the land into a mixed-use development, along with the Civic Center Building and Plaza Project, which broke ground earlier this year.

All of this could amount to a potential redevelopment boom for areas including Naked City, said Raanan and Plantone.

Plantone, who hopes to have the development finished by sometime in late 2024, said the redevelopments going on all over the larger core are changing the feel of the area for what he hopes is the better.

“The Strip has always kind of ended at Sahara, and then you had the Strat, but after that it was kind of a decrepit area, an industrial and just a bad area that was built in the ‘50s,” he said. “And then you go two miles and you’ve got downtown, but in the middle is all old and beat up, and now the Arts District is going in and getting bigger and bigger every day along with this area, so there is an opportunity here for sure.”

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com or 702-348-3967.

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