Updated November 6, 2019 - 5:43 pm
The Las Vegas City Council approved a plan Wednesday to facilitate the sale of the Huntridge Theater, raising hopes that the run-down historic structure will be renovated and reopened.
Under the plan, Las Vegas developer J Dapper would buy the shuttered property from its longtime owners, the Mizrachi family, for $4 million. City Attorney Brad Jerbic has said he hopes Dapper can close the deal within six months.
Dapper, founder of Dapper Companies, did not specify his plans for the Huntridge at Wednesday’s hearing. However, according to a recent court filing, he wants to have a residential component at the property, rehabilitate the theater and deal with potential operators of the historic venue.
He told the council he wants to “restore the theater back to its original glory,” but if he finds out he can’t save the World War II-era building, his interest in buying it “would go away.”
He doesn’t want to purchase the Huntridge and then just demolish it, he noted.
“The theater is the reason that I’m buying this property,” Dapper said.
Built in 1944, the once-popular entertainment venue at the southeast corner of Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway has been closed and in disrepair for some time. It has drawn homeless people somewhat regularly. Multiple revival plans have come and gone over the years, but supporters said Wednesday they are excited about Dapper’s acquisition plan.
Councilman Cedric Crear said the developer will “do something great” with the venue. Huntridge Foundation President Daniel Roberts, an advocate for its preservation, said his group is “very excited to see the dawn of a new life for the theater.”
Dapper has expressed interest in buying the Huntridge before and owns other real estate nearby, including the Huntridge Shopping Center on the other side of Maryland Parkway.
“I think this brings a lot of joy and excitement to my neighbors of the Huntridge area,” said Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, whose ward includes the theater.
The Huntridge, which is on the national and state registers of historic places, 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, owner Eli Mizrachi said the next year that he and the building were in “limbo.”
Multiple attempts to revive the building then came and went, including state legislation and a plan by three downtown businessmen to buy and renovate the Huntridge.
Along the way, the state of Nevada sued Mizrachi in 2014, claiming his group had breached grant provisions in part by failing to pay for maintenance work. The grants were initially given to prior owners, and Mizrachi’s group claimed the lawsuit was “an attempt to extort” more than $1 million before funding covenants expired and the building was sold.
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.
Mizrachi could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Las Vegas has received court approval to intervene in the case, Jerbic told the council Wednesday, adding that the deal with Dapper was facilitated by the city in large part because it gets the city involved in the litigation.
If the case is not resolved, Jerbic said, it will be a “permanent obstruction” to the refurbishment and reopening of the Huntridge.