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 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.


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.

Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like