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With sale done, developer wants to bring Huntridge Theater back to life

Updated April 1, 2021 - 12:45 pm

After multiple attempts to revive the Huntridge Theater went nowhere, a local developer has completed his purchase of the World War II-era venue and intends to bring it back to life.

Dapper Companies founder J Dapper closed his $4 million acquisition of the long-shuttered Las Vegas property and will spend the next three years renovating it, the firm announced Wednesday.

The sale has been in the works for some time and marks a new chapter for the once-popular theater, which closed more than 15 years ago, is in visible need of repairs and has drawn homeless people outside.

Dapper, who owns other commercial real estate nearby, told the Review-Journal on Wednesday that he tried on and off for the past decade to buy the historic venue, located at the southeast corner of Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway.

He said that a few national concert operators have expressed interest in the property and that some local food-and-beverage operators have eyed the complex too.

The walls were scanned to make sure the building is structurally sound, and the vast majority of the property “is in better shape than we expected,” Dapper said.

Still, he figures it will cost around $10 million to renovate the theater building and $5 million to $8 million to fix up the adjacent retail space.

“This was not an easy lift,” said former Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic, who worked with other city officials to facilitate the sale. “There’s so many things that go with the Huntridge.”

‘Wishing for this moment’

Las Vegas Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, whose ward includes the theater, said Wednesday that she was seeing positive reaction from her constituents to the news of the sale.

“This is another hurdle cleared in this very lengthy process to bring the Huntridge back to our community,” she said.

The theater holds personal significance for Diaz, who was born and raised in the district and recalled watching a production with artists from Mexico when she was 18 and being able to meet actors behind the scenes.

“I think the community has been wishing for this moment,” she said.

Built in 1944, the Huntridge 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.”

Efforts were launched to reopen the venue. In 2007, a bill in the Nevada Assembly proposed spending $8.5 million to buy and restore the Huntridge as a cultural and performing arts center. By 2008, Mizrachi was discussing plans to make it an office and retail complex, and in 2013, three downtown businessmen banded together to buy and renovate the theater.

City steps in

Nevada sued Mizrachi in 2014, alleging his group had breached grant provisions by failing to pay for maintenance work and by keeping the theater closed for years. The grants were initially given to prior owners, and Mizrachi’s group said 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 later filed court papers alleging the owners had let the theater “fall further” into disrepair.

Human waste, rotting food and other debris were seen outside on several visits, and security fencing and gates were damaged, suggesting people tried to force their way in, according to the state.

The Las Vegas City Council approved a plan in 2019 to help the sale of the Huntridge to Dapper, whose real estate holdings include the Huntridge Shopping Center across Maryland Parkway.

The city intervened in state litigation against the Mizrachi family, leading to a settlement approved by city lawmakers in October that absolved the family of existing debt owed to Nevada and cleared a path for the theater’s sale.

The settlement also called for the theater, which is on national and state registers of historic places, to be added to the city’s historic register too.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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