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The Lucy to open a new chapter in downtown Las Vegas’ culture

Updated January 27, 2019 - 4:12 pm

No, we don’t live in the casinos. And most of us don’t live on the Strip. In our free time, we’re more likely to go to a show or read a book or have dinner with our families than we are to sit at a slot machine.

But as Las Vegans, we often have to explain that to the folks back home or those who come to visit.

“It gets old defending your hometown,” says Beverly Rogers, who moved to Las Vegas when she was 12. “I hated going back to Philly and people making fun of where I live.”

Rogers, co-founder of the nonprofit Rogers Foundation, has wanted her whole life to help put Las Vegas on the map and prove that there’s more to this town than the glitter of the Strip.

With the upcoming opening of The Lucy, she thinks she’s finally done it. Rogers is expanding her literacy and arts-focused philanthropy to include the new creative community.

The Lucy will be many things. Ask Rogers about it and she’ll excitedly tell you about all of them — quite possibly all at once.

The Lucy will be anchored by The Writer’s Block’s new location — expanded to make it the largest independent bookstore in Nevada. It will feature a cafe and dedicated event space.

Above the bookstore will be a dozen loft-style residences, three of which are allotted for artists and writers who are working to make lasting impacts on the Las Vegas Valley.

Lofts will be reserved for artists in residence and fellows of UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, a literary hub that aims to bring writers to the heart of global conversations.

A large outdoor venue will be home to various events in collaboration with The Believer Festival, among others.

Rogers sees the space being used as a center for creatives in Las Vegas. It will represent one more space for artists, writers and musicians to meet and collaborate.

The Lucy gets its name from the Latin word for “light.” “We’re shining a light on the arts community in Las Vegas,” she says. Lucy is also the name of her dog. The Lucy’s logo looks like an open book — but also like a sunrise.

For Rogers, it’s something that Las Vegas has been longing for.

“There are a number of large arts groups coming in,” she says. “Between Life is Beautiful and the Arts District, The Smith Center, Downtown Project — this will be a mecca for all kinds of arts. This will be a way for people to congregate, create and communicate.”

The Writer’s Block

“It began a couple of years ago when I bought out Downtown Project’s interest in The Writer’s Block,” Rogers says.

As partial owner alongside Drew Cohen and Scott Seeley, Rogers’ priority became finding a larger home for the Fremont Street store.

“We looked at a number of buildings that needed renovations for too high a cost,” she says.

Rogers caught wind of a deal that was falling through for an eventual office and restaurant space at Sixth Street and Bonneville Avenue downtown.

“We wanted the whole space for the bookstore,” Rogers says. “We bought the whole project.”

Tentatively scheduled to open March 1, the new Writer’s Block will house nearly 1 million books and include a 60-person-capacity venue for hosting events that the store has developed over almost four years at its former location.

The shop will retain its artificial bird sanctuary theme. “It’s going to have a lot of exposed wood and these big metal trusses going in. We’ll have a 16-foot-tall birdcage around the checkout area,” Cohen says.

Cohen and Seeley plan to continue their series of book clubs, readings and signings. They’re eager to continue field trips in the larger venue.

“We do a writing program for young children where they come up with stories to please my scary boss, The Baron,” Seeley says. “At the end of the program, we present their printed stories to him. And the kids are shocked.”

The Baron, The Writer’s Block resident rabbit, also will be moving into the new digs.

Seeley is working on bookworm infestations — shadow boxes with goofy bookworms tucked behind random children’s books.

Other additions will be further collaborations for BMI and Lucy residents and a small coffee shop.

“This is designed as a place to congregate,” Rogers says. “A coffee shop will be a good place to do that.”

The Lucy’s corner won’t see the same foot traffic as The Writer’s Block’s former location, but Seeley and Cohen say the new location offers plenty of opportunity.

“We learned that foot traffic is not our customer base. It’s a destination location,” Seeley says. “So many people come to Las Vegas against their will — for conferences or their cousin’s wedding. They’re nerdy book people like us. They’re looking for a bookstore.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel @reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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