The Moulin Rouge was once the glittering center of the Historic Westside in Las Vegas.
It was the first racially integrated casino in the United States, and it drew big names like Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Armstrong. It opened in 1955 and lasted only six months, but it’s remembered as a hallmark achievement in Las Vegas history.
People have tried to restore it ever since.
Until today. The property is in ruins, and the city is going to demolish what remains of it. Complicating the issue, 200 or so homeless people, including children, were found living on the property.
“There is no power, no water and there are constant fires," City Councilman Ricki Barlow, who represents the area, told KNPR's State of Nevada. "The last thing I want as a representative of this area is for one of those buildings to catch fire and 50, 60, 70, 100 people are burned to death.”
Barlow said no one was entirely sure how many people lived on the property and it wasn't until city inspectors went into the property after the last fire a week and a half ago that the city realized how many people were there.
The city is now working with the county, Metro Police and other agencies to help find services and resources for the people who were living there.
Barlow said the decision has been made to demolish all the structures because they are a public safety problem. The city will pay for the demolition, but it will put a lien on the property so when it is sold the city will recover that money.
Several times over the years, developers have tried to redevelop the buildings, but nothing has come of it. The property has been damaged by multiple fires over the years.
Now, one of the ideas the city is discussing is selling the property to Clark County so it can build a new Department of Family Services building on the property.
Barlow said that is a possibility but nothing is "etched in stone." He said they're looking at a "variety of developments" for the area.
“We’re not taking anything off the table because there is such a great need whether it be housing, commercial, retail," he said. "There is a great need for government services in the area still. We’re looking at a variety of options to continue to drive economic development into the area in order to bring it up.”
Barlow said even though the buildings from the Moulin Rouge will no longer be on the site the legacy of the casino and hotel will carry on and it will remain on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ricki Barlow, Las Vegas city councilman, Ward 5