Owner sees brighter days ahead for Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas

After years of struggling, downtown Las Vegas’ Neonopolis retail center is starting to see brighter days.

Neonopolis, a dining and entertainment development in downtown Las Vegas, is slowly filling long-standing vacancies.

Rohit Joshi, the property’s owner, said the rebound is coming at the right pace.

“It is good it’s slow because it will be done properly,” Joshi said.

The building was completed in 2002 for $100 million. Joshi purchased it four years later for a quarter of the cost.

Controversy dogged Neonopolis since plans for it were introduced late in 1997. The property, constructed jointly by the city of Las Vegas and Prudential, kicked two other downtown properties to the curb on eminent domain grounds. Neonopolis had planned to open in 2000, but the ribbon cutting was postponed for two years.

The city still owns the parking garage under Neonopolis, which customers can park at for free as long as their tickets are validated. Tenants then pick up the parking tab at discounted rates.

Since the beginning, Neonopolis has been bleeding tenants. A few years after Joshi bought the building a decade ago, the air conditioning at Neonopolis was cut off because of a disagreement between him and the building’s air conditioning provider. Most of the tenants who came into the property left.

”Neonopolis

NEW OUTLOOK

“Neonopolis has had its challenges historically, but it appears the owners are taking a fresh look at what residents and tourists may be seeking from that location,” said Brian Gordon, principal at Las Vegas-based research company Applied Analysis.

Although it’s been a tough go so far, Joshi says there’s renewed enthusiasm in his mall.

Of the building’s 240,000 square feet of leasable retail space, only about a quarter is occupied. By the end of 2016, the building will be half full, Joshi said.

An Italian restaurant called Fat Papa’s will move into a 9,000-square-foot space on the Fremont side of the building’s second floor by the beginning of next year. The restaurant will serve homemade Italian favorites inspired by the mob-run streets of old Chicago. An old Cadillac is planned to be converted into an elevator that will carry diners to the second-floor balcony.

Fat Papa’s owner Frank Ruffalo said the Neonopolis was perfect for his new business.

”I was looking for the absolute best location I thought that would fit the concept and the theme of what I want, and old town Vegas is the ideal situation,” Ruffalo said.

An arcade is also planning to open at Neonopolis early next month. Fremont Arcade will occupy a 3,500 square-foot space on the first floor and compete with other downtown arcades such as the one at the Golden Nugget. Joshi said the space will cater to both millennials and older adults.

Neonopolis is already home to several businesses, including Banger Brewing, Toy Shack and the Heart Attack Grill. Denny’s is the building’s top seller.

Joshi said he plans to focus on food, beverage and entertainment to distinguish Neonopolis from other shopping malls. He said movie theaters and hard goods have their place in the suburbs.

The building once had an 18-screen movie theater, which Joshi converted into nightclubs.

The building was mostly full when the nightclubs were shut down several years ago.

“All of a sudden I was over 50 percent closed down within hours, with no fault of ours, or the business or downtown — it was just the operator that made a mistake, and it happens,” Joshi said.

‘A BEER-DRINKING CROWD’

Swanky nightclubs are not in the cards for Joshi and his property. He said the Strip has that market covered.

“People there have more disposable income, so they will spend $2,000 for Dom Perignon Champagne,” Joshi said. “But here is a beer-drinking crowd.”

Joshi wants to serve that crowd with a club geared toward millennials. He said he is negotiating with an e-sports venue, three restaurants, three bars, a nightclub and a “major entertainment venue,” which he declined to name.

Joshi said the key to the building’s success is sticking to the businesses he knows work and investing in a mix of well-known brands and startups.

A little patience doesn’t hurt, either.

“These tenants didn’t just walk in, they’ve been talking to me for the last three, four years,” Joshi said

Recent openings such as The Little Neon Wedding Chapel gave Joshi reason to celebrate.

“It was a sign of things coming back,” he said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @BlakeApgarLVon Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
The Mansion at MGM boasts hidden luxury
The Mansion at MGM, a hotel within a hotel, features 29 luxury villas for invited guests only. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Goodwill of Southern Nevada
Under CEO John Helderman, Goodwill of Southern Nevada has expanded its services including the new home of Goodwill’s Veteran Integration Program. Free job services are paid for by revenues generated by Goodwill's retail stores. In 2017, the sale of donated goods allowed Goodwill of Southern Nevada to train more than 17,000 job seekers. More than 2,500 of those found local jobs. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little bat company on verge of MLB deal
Larry Thein, part owner and one of only three employees of the Tat2 Bat Company of Davenport, Iowa, made the company's first bat in a hog barn. He spoke of the humble origins during a trade show at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nev., on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Texas Roadhouse opens in North Las Vegas
Texas Roadhouse has opened at on Craig Road at Bruce Street in North Las Vegas as part of an emerging "restaurant row." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday Parade Lights Up Downtown Summerlin
Holiday parade lights up Downtown Summerlin every Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 22.
Nevada's solar industry on the rebound
In 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a new tariff structure that reduced net energy metering buyback rates and increased fix fees for residential solar customers.
Apartment complexes selling fast in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ apartment vacancy rate is among the smallest in the country, and rents are climbing faster than the national average. (LVRJ)
Aristocrat Opens $45M Campus In Summerlin
Aristocrat Technologies Chairman Ian Blackburne discusses the company's growth. (LVRJ)
Sunrise Hospital celebrates 60 years
Sunrise Hospital opened its doors to patients on Dec. 15, 1958. Employees of more than 35 years celebrated at a luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. Jessie Bekker/ Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Maya Cinemas to open soon in North Las Vegas
Moctesuma Esparza, CEO of Maya Cinemas, talks about the newest location in North Las Vegas, set to open Jan. 10. The aim of the theatre chain is to serve latino-centric, underserved communities.
Holiday shopping and returns make this the busiest time of year for UPS
The UPS Las Vegas South facility is the company's busiest pre-load operation in the country, and it's even busier this time of year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times
The mall, attached to Primm Valley Resort, opened in 1998. Back then, it was a “textbook, perfect outlet-center location." But now, Primm’s outlet mall has fallen on hard times. Las Vegas Boulevard has endless shopping spots. And there are other outlet malls that don’t require a hefty drive to the state line. Its mortgage-holder foreclosed on the mall in late September.
Miltary auction at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
Humvees, ammo cans, construction equipment, field gear and more is on the auction block Friday and Saturday at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. About 10,000 items in all are for sale in what GovPlanet bills as the largest auction of its kind.
Las Vegas residents discuss avoiding holiday scams
Las Vegas residents discuss their donation habits and how they avoid giving money to scam charities during the holiday season. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory ahead of economic impact expectations
The Tesla Gigafactory’s economic impact on Nevada has exceeded projections, bringing in more than 7,000 jobs. In 2014, Nevada agreed to give the automotive and energy company $1.3 billion in tax abatements. In return, Tesla promised to meet certain requirements in areas like employment and capital investment. As of June, Tesla has brought in a total of $6.05 billion in capital investment, surpassing the $4.95 billion projection. The original contract gave the company until 2024 to make $3.5 billion in capital investments in Nevada. Derek Armstrong, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Land sales near the Las Vegas Raiders stadium
Land around the Las Vegas stadium site has been selling for high prices. A few months before the stadium’s groundbreaking, Global Trust Group acquired a 2.5-acre parcel just north of the stadium site. The property sold for $7.25 million, or $2.9 million an acre. Osprey Real Estate Capital and Huntington Hotel Group acquired a 2-acre industrial site just west of the stadium site in late November. The property sold for $6.5 million, or $3.15 million per acre. That's roughly 12 times the average price of land in the valley this year as tracked by Colliers International.
T-Mobile Tech Experience Truck parks in Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena
The Tech Experience Truck is a state-of-the-art showroom on wheels, with demonstrations that put connected drones, smart cities, augmented/virtual reality and smart tracking. The exhibit shows new wireless technology – including 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents
Steve Siegel, CEO of the Siegel Group, speaks about helping families and other needy residents to keep them from teetering off into homelessness. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vrgas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Crowds camp out for Chick-fil-A opening
Dozens of customers camped out 24 hours ahead of the 6 a.m. Thursday opening of the new Chick-fil-A on Rainbow Blvd.
Cheapest listings for sale in Las Vegas
Listed for $39,990, 585 S. Royal Crest Circle, Unit #9 is one of the cheapest homes currently listed for sale in Las Vegas. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Terry Miller discusses Convention Center
Project Manager Terry Miller explains the phases of Convention Center construction.
Zappos treats their team members on Cyber Monday
Zappos rolls out a variety of food, drinks and special activities for all team members at their downtown Las Vegas headquarters for Cyber Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Team Hybrid at the 2019-Model Motor Trend International Auto Show
Among the companies showing off the 2019 model cars, Team Hybrid shows off its modified cars. Las Vegas resident David David talks about the team, which is in its ninth year exhibiting at the show, and his show car.
Black Friday Shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal
Black Friday shoppers at downtown Summerlin and at the Arsenal. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfYe
Black Friday shopping in Las Vegas
Black Friday sale shopers express their shopping experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am
Black Friday shoppers at Best Buy at 5 am on Nov. 23. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday - 1am Closing Time
Quiet night.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like