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Housing authority considers casino for Las Vegas Moulin Rouge site

Updated June 27, 2019 - 6:25 pm

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority is the latest group to show serious interest in acquiring the old Moulin Rouge site in downtown Las Vegas, eyeing new public housing and a “tavern-style” casino to reinvest profit into Historic Westside.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the housing authority board will consider approving $5.5 million for an offer on the property of the first racially integrated casino in Las Vegas, according to a copy of the agenda. The authority’s executive director, Chad Williams, said Thursday he was hopeful the city would waive $2.5 million in liens connected to demolition and related costs.

The purchase costs could be bankrolled either by unrestricted, nonfederal reserve funds or any combination of loan and grant money, the document shows.

Williams said the plan for the 15-acre plot along Bonanza Road includes a Moulin Rouge-themed tavern casino, affordable housing, commercial retail and a satellite campus for either UNLV or the University of Nevada, Reno.

The proposed project will “change and transform the landscape of that property,” he said, adding that it also offers an alternative source of income as the authority seeks to be less reliant on federal funding. The authority would bring on a partner with experience managing casinos.

“I believe this is an amazing venture for our housing authority to excel itself as a leader of innovation, creativity, and boldness in Southern Nevada,” Williams said in a statement. The plan will “address our affordable housing needs, transform neighborhoods, and give hope to generations of families that have been hindered from participating in the economic growth of the region.”

The authority owns the adjacent Marble Manor property.

Kevin Hanchett, the court-appointed receiver for the property, said the authority reached out to him on June 15 to formally express interest in acquiring the site, 11 days after the operator of Dotty’s taverns did. Both have received copies of purchase and sale agreements, but neither had signed and returned them as of Thursday.

After Hanchett deems an offer acceptable, it must be court-approved. The authority and Dotty’s are the two newest potential buyers for the property, he said, but there are three other serious groups still in play.

The Moulin Rouge, near Martin Luther King Boulevard, opened in 1955 for six months when the rest of the city’s casinos were segregated. Five years later, it hosted the meeting that effectively ended segregation in Las Vegas casinos and resorts.

In recent years, it has been gutted by fires, and a string of potential deals to buy the property have fallen apart.


Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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