Well, there's been lots of talk all day in back circles about the big news:
The venerable Huntridge Theater, one of the movie theaters of not only my youth but all of us of a certain age, is in very real danger.
Emails are flying back and forth between preservation groups and everyone is waiting to see what the Las Vegas Sun reports in the morning.
Word on the street is that the owner of the Huntridge, Eli Mizrachi is going to approach the State Cultural Affairs Commission in March. Seems that Mizrachi wants to pay back the money he got from the State for restoration of the Huntridge years ago. In return, he is hoping to get permission TO TEAR DOWN the Huntridge.
On Friday the Cultural Affairs Commission discussed allowing current Huntridge owner Eli Mizrachi repay the state $1.5 million in grant money that was designated to renovate and restore the Huntridge into a top-notch performing venue. Mizrachi wants to cut the strings attached to the money. Right now he can't demolish the building or even alter it without prior approval from the State Historic Preservation Officer. And, its use has to be as a performing arts space.
But if he gets permission from the Cultural Affairs Commission and Ron James, the State Historic Preservation Officer, to repay the money, then the road will be clear for Mizrachi to approach the City of Las Vegas Planning Commission about razing the building and building something new there.
This will be a lightning rod issue for all the preservation groups. The historic theater designed by renowned theater architect S. Charles Lee and originally owned, in part, by Loretta Young and Irene Dunne has been a part of the Las Vegas landscape since the 1940s.
Frank Sinatra premiered his movie "Suddenly" there selling tickets from the box office to the adoring crowds. It was the home of Disney animated features when I was younger. It has been a theater, a night club and a performing arts venue. There are people in town who very much want to see it returned to its former glory as a performing arts venue that provides not only for the community at large but for the near-by historic neighborhoods as well.
This one will likely create a firestorm of opinions.
So stay tuned. We will update this story in the morning as soon as we have more information.
In the meantime, here's two previous articles on the history of the Huntridge:
Special Thanks to RoadsidePictures for allowing us to use this image.
Also blogging about this issue is the crew from VeryVintageVegas.com