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What Will The Huntridge Theater Become?

By Chicknhawk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Huntridge Theater July 2012

The historic Huntridge Theater in downtown Las Vegas is in the process of being sold.

Developer J. Dapper is looking to spend $4 million to buy the property from the current owner, Eli Mizrachi of King George LLC. Mizrachi bought the property for $925,000 from the state of Nevada in 2002.

The city of Las Vegas has approved the sale but before it is finalized there are about six to eight months of what Dapper calls "due diligence" on the property, which includes inspections of its structural viability and environmental concerns. 

When that process is finished, Dapper hopes to close on the property and quickly begin its revitalization.

This is not the first time someone has tried to revive the old theater, which opened in 1944 as a movie theater.

Despite the past failures, including one that relied on crowdsourcing to fund renovations, Dapper believes this new effort will be successful.

"One of the reasons that I think this deal... is going to work is because not only the city of Las Vegas, all of the players within the organizations that have been trying to save the Huntridge for all these years, everybody is kind of on the same team for the first time, which is one of the reasons I got involved," he said.

Dapper said he's been interested in purchasing the property for a long time but because it seemed there was always one stakeholder or another at cross purposes in the past he didn't want to get involved in the project. 

He believes that has changed and everyone is moving the same direction.

Dapper said he has been looking at how other cities have saved similar properties. He's hoping to model the Huntridge's revival to those success stories.

One of the things other cities and developers have done is bring the surrounding land into the redevelopment mix, he said. For instance, in Nashville, an old theater was redeveloped with multi-family housing on the property surrounding it.

"They made it a part of the theater's culture and it worked really well," Dapper said, "And it made it possible for the developer then to spend that $6 million to redevelop the theater and bring it back into its glory days."

The Huntridge Theater, like other historic properties, comes with a set of standards or covenants laid out by the state of Nevada for preservation. 

If the sale to Dapper goes through, those standards stay in place until 2028. Skeptics have suggested that Dapper plans to just hold onto the property until those standards expire then replace the entire building. Dapper said that is not his plan at all.

"I have no intention of buying the property if I don't get the Huntridge Theater," he said, "We're going through this process that could take a long time - six to eight months - and it's because we want to save the theater... The hope is we're going to bring it back to what it was like in its glory days and maybe even better."

He envisions a performance art space where local artists and musicians will be able to perform and play. 

Dapper said he and his team want to be respectful of the theater's history and architecture. They also want to work with the community and the surrounding neighborhood, "to make sure we get it right."

J. Dapper, developer.

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