Future looks brighter for downtown Las Vegas

March 19, 2002 7:33 AM
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Things may be looking up downtown. The announced sale of the Four Queens Hotel and the long-awaited opening of the $100 million Neonopolis entertainment center has given downtown entrepreneurs reason for optimism.

“I’m interested in anything that will drive business to the downtown area,” said Mayor Oscar Goodman. “Anything that creates energy and excitement is welcome down here.”

Mayor Goodman has been a long-time advocate of the downtown area, and has even gone out on a limb with some of his efforts to bring sports franchises and arenas to the area.

A good litmus test of his predictions will occur in May, when the Neonopolis entertainment center will open adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience.

The 250,000-square-foot enclosed mall will be anchored by a movie theater complex and an entertainment-themed restaurant. The mall is also expected to be home to dozens of shops, boutiques, eateries and a walking neon museum.

The neon museum will contain many relics of long-lost casinos, including the signs from the old Aladdin, Hacienda and Golden Nugget, as well as other classic signage.

Also encouraging to downtown business interests is the announced sale of the Four Queens Hotel to businessman Terry Caudill, the owner of the Magoo’s chain of video poker taverns.

A spokesman for Caudill told GamingToday that the new owner “believes in Las Vegas and is not afraid to invest in downtown.”

“One of the big things in consummating the sale was raising the equity money,” said David Atwell of Resort Properties of America, which helped broker the deal. “It helped that the Four Queens hotel had such a great cash flow, about $5 million a year.”

Atwell added that Caudill sold an office building in the Summerlin area to help fund the down payment, with the Four Queens being named as a “1031 exchange property.”

Enhancing the purchase was the settling of the issue of the parking garage in back of the Four Queens, which in the past has been used by the courthouse across Carson Street.

“The Four Queens now has complete control of the parking garage,” Atwell said.

The sale is expected to close in May, about the same time that the Neonopolis is scheduled to open its doors to the public.