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Housing authority nixes Moulin Rouge purchase near downtown Las Vegas

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority will no longer seek to buy the old Moulin Rouge site in downtown Las Vegas, executive director Chad Williams said Thursday, acknowledging that a deal was not feasible.

“Maybe we can look at it 10 years from now but right now I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the housing authority to acquire this property,” Williams told board members during a regularly scheduled meeting.

Williams chalked up abandoning efforts to acquire the 15-acre plot along Bonanza Road near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to a “business decision” made after performing a feasibility study, even though he said the appraisal was “very favorable for us.”

He first proposed in late June bidding $5.5 million for the land of the city’s first racially integrated casino, envisioning commercial retail, a satellite college campus and new affordable housing. The authority owns the adjacent Marble Manor public housing.

But Williams’ proposal also included entering the public entity into the gaming industry.

The idea, he said, was to find a partner who could manage a casino. Profits from the operation would be reinvested into the Historic Westside, lessening the authority’s reliance on federal dollars and allowing it to create self-sustaining income, he added.

Board members were mixed on the proposal and it was tabled until Williams notified them on Thursday that the plan was dead.

He said that he now worried whichever developer would ultimately buy the property – a string of potential deals over the years have fallen apart – would not have the best interest of Historic Westside residents in mind.

But he also said he would speak with the buyer about the authority providing an operating subsidy if that developer was interested in building affordable housing.

Kevin Hanchett, the court-appointed receiver for the land, said he continues to be engaged with “a number of potential buyers.”

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

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