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Huntridge Theater revival takes another step forward

Updated October 21, 2020 - 4:54 pm

Plans to restore the historic Huntridge Theater took another step forward Wednesday as the Las Vegas City Council approved a court settlement that clears the way for a developer to buy the shuttered downtown property.

By unanimous vote, the council agreed to a deal that absolves the present owner, the Mizrachi family, of existing debt owed to the state and passes it to J. Dapper, of Las Vegas-based Dapper Companies, who intends to purchase the theater for $4 million.

The $389,000 that is owed to Nevada “comes with the burden of basically restoring the theater and maintaining it for 12 years,” former Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic said.

Jerbic retired this summer but has continued to volunteer as the city facilitates the theater’s sale. It intervened in the Clark County District Court case from which the settlement arose. The deal was a mandatory predecessor to a sale, and Jerbic assured that the city “is not on the hook for a dime.”

With Wednesday’s sign-off following an approval this month by the state Historic Preservation Office, only one more green light remains before Dapper can close on the building, and it is not seen as a hurdle: The city’s Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote on the settlement Oct. 28.

That final approval could set the table for the purchase to occur by year’s end.

“This will be an amazing victory for all of us, and it will become a long-term part of our Las Vegas history, which we need to do better in preserving,” said Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, who represents the ward where the theater is located.

Dapper has said he wants to return the theater, which closed more than 15 years ago, to its “original glory” and draw local and big-name musical acts to the venue and potentially build apartments, a restaurant and brewery next door.

On Wednesday, he said the plan is to engage an architecture firm that specializes in restoring theaters and to work out an agreement with a partner to decide on the theater’s direction. The project will be done holistically and not in phases, he added.

“I’ve never restored something that is this old and this historic,” Dapper told city lawmakers.

But neighborhood activists, who have waited years for the theater’s revival, expressed confidence in his ability to breathe life into the property, particularly because he had proved himself on a five-year effort renovating the nearby shopping center.

Immediate efforts must be undertaken to add the theater to the city’s historic register, according to terms of the settlement. The property, built in 1944, is on national and state registers of historic places.

It showed movies throughout its history and grew into a premier concert venue by the 1990s.

“Let’s have a shining jewel in the restored Huntridge Theater to light the intersection of these beautiful neighborhoods,” said Kathleen Kahr D’Esposito, vice president of the Huntridge Neighborhood Association. “Let’s give our young people those great memories that we had.”

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

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