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Homeless camping on Strip

They hang “Do not disturb” signs from their doorknobs. Some make their beds in the morning. Artwork even hangs on a few of the walls of this one-time Strip motel.

Less than a mile south of the golden-windowed towers of Mandalay Bay, the homeless have found a new place to stay — inside the shell of what was once the Klondike Inn.

The decades-old Las Vegas Boulevard property near Russell Road has become more than just an eyesore and a flophouse for homeless people since it closed last year, Clark County officials said. The 153-room building is also downright dangerous.

Its landings are rotting. Columns that support the second floor are in danger of collapsing. The windows and doors are broken or missing, and the hotel’s courtyard is strewn with shattered glass.

Out front stands the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign.

“Who would know that an encampment exists right here?” said Linda Lera-Randle El, director of the Straight from the Streets homeless outreach program, while surveying the property last week.

“It shows you the expansiveness of homelessness, that it’s not just in the homeless corridor” downtown.

Don Medvi, who works next door at the Las Vegas Tourist Bureau, said homeless people even used the hotel’s showers until the water was shut off recently.

“They took most of the framing, and they ripped out the wiring,” he said. “I’ve seen them with wagons full of copper wires.”

County officials said the hotel’s owner, Royal Palm Las Vegas, has not been responsive to directives to do something with the place.

Royal Palm is part of Royal Palm Communities, a Florida company that has developed high-rise condominiums, hotels and business offices.

The company paid longtime owner John Woodrum about $24 million to buy the Klondike’s 5.29 acres in September, according to Clark County assessor’s office records. Royal Palm also spent $42 million on a vacant, 5.25-acre site next to the Klondike.

Ron Lynn, director of the county’s Department of Development Services, sent a letter in September to the company detailing dangers at the Klondike and ordering the owner to either repair the place by Dec. 18 or demolish it by Nov. 13.

“We have not heard back,” he said on Friday.

The Review-Journal had left several messages with Royal Palm since the start of last week seeking information about the site.

On Monday, John Montani, a spokesman for Royal Palm subsidiary Paramount Worldwide Gaming, said all of the county’s issues with the Klondike had been resolved.

He declined to comment further, other than to say that the company will be announcing its plans for the property early next year and that homeless people are no longer living at the site.

Lynn on Monday said that a Royal Palm attorney did call the county that morning to say the company had received the county’s September order. But the issues have not been resolved, Lynn said.

“Their responsibility is to maintain it, and they haven’t,” Lynn said. “Nothing’s been done.”

The county will be drafting another letter to Royal Palm, Lynn said. The company could face fines or liens for failing to comply with the county’s orders.

In the meantime, homeless outreach teams are working the Klondike as they would any other encampment, said Shannon West, regional homeless services coordinator for the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition’s Committee on Homelessness.

West said Clark County Social Services and outreach teams have been visiting the Klondike in hopes of talking the homeless into shelters and other services before the building is either fixed up or demolished.

She estimated that 15 to 20 homeless people initially lived there.

Some of them moved on after outreach workers began visiting.

A couple agreed to take help finding more permanent housing, Lera-Randle El said.

She said she thinks that eight homeless men are still crashing in the hotel each night.

“Someone made the bed in room 207,” she said while peeking through a door.

“There are hard hats on the bed. The window has curtains across it, even though there’s no window.”

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0285.

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