City’s oldest mall takes new approach to tenant occupancy

When The Boulevard mall was purchased by local developer Roland Sansone in November 2013, he announced plans for a $25 million renovation and big changes at the shopping venue.

While many speculated what that would mean, few imagined it would be a slew of locally owned and operated businesses, government services and two museums.

“I don’t think there was a plan to have local businesses there,” said Clyda Seno, who works at the front desk of the management office at the mall, 3528 S. Maryland Parkway. “There were some smaller spaces there, and they were being leased to anyone that seemed suitable.”

The result is an eclectic mix of businesses, including a large photo gallery and studio, Nevada Health Link, a dance studio, a store specializing in quinceanera dresses and Subway. The Hispanic Museum of Nevada has been at the mall since December 2013.

“We were at a smaller venue, and we needed to expand, “ said Lynette Sawyer, the museum’s founder. “They needed new tenants, and we needed the space. It’s been win/win for all of us.”

Sawyer has watched the new tenants arriving and said she is excited about the diversity and local businesses she has seen.

“It’s great to see the different age groups and parts of the population coming in,” she said. “There are so many people we’ve never seen before.”

One of the most recent tenants is the Hall of Antiquities, a store and exhibition space that is the brainchild of Peter Shields, a historian and author.

“I have all these bits and pieces of memorabilia I’ve collected over the years on my world travels,” Shields said. “It was slowly moving me out of my house.”

His initial plan was to set up a booth in an antique mall, but he found that every one he visited was full and had a waiting list, so he decided to create his own.

His space at the mall was formerly a Victoria’s Secret, which now occupies another space at the facility. He had subdividing walls put in and has filled it with vendors, although the initial collection was pulled from Shields’ home and the collections of two notable and unusual Las Vegans: magician Dixie Dooley and former brain surgeon/Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren.

“I met Lonnie two years ago, and it wasn’t too long before I began working on his biography,” Shields said. “When I started putting this together, I told him I wanted to make part of it a tribute to what he had done as lieutenant governor and so forth over the years, so we created the Hammargren Exhibition Hall.”

The exhibition hall features some of the items Hammargren has collected over the years, including a painting by band leader Xavier Cugat, an oil painting honoring cosmonauts and memorabilia from daredevils Evel and Robbie Knievel. The display also includes some of Shields’ and Dooley’s private collections.

“Dixie plans to do some shows for the kids down here,” Shields said. “His wife is selling vintage clothing here.”

The Boulevard mall was once a primary place to shop in Las Vegas, but that changed drastically with the shift in population and the arrival of more modern malls. Shields, Sawyer and other new tenants are not hoping to bring the mall back to its former glory. They’re hoping to create something new, different, and ideally, successful.

Contact East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 702-380-4532.

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