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A buyer for Neonopolis?

Aug 31, 2004 6:10 AM

Neonopolis could have new owners before the end of the year, according to the brokerage firm that’s trying to sell the struggling downtown entertainment venue for its owner, the Prudential Company.

According to Charles Moore and Christina Roush, vice presidents for the CB Richard Ellis company, there are several investors who have expressed interest in buying the property.

Two of them were characterized by Moore as "serious" potential bidders, who are engaged in on-going negotiations for the Fremont Street property.

Moore said he could not reveal their identities or the nature of their business interests.

A deal for the three-story property — which was built over a parking garage paid for with city money — could be signed as early as Thanksgiving, Moore said, but even if the proposed deals should deals should fall through, Neonopolis will eventually be sold.

"A buyer will be found," Moore proclaimed, adding that the search for a new owner, which started when Prudential put the property on the market in the middle of May, has been going on "24/7."

However, Roush said that while there have been a lot of people who have expressed interest in Neonopolis, many of them weren’t qualified. "We don’t want this property to fall into the hands of somebody who won’t make it better," she said. "It’s not going to be a passive investor. It’s going to go to a buyer who is creative and has a vision."

Currently, Neonopolis is restricted from offering gambling operations and the city is opposed to easing the restriction, Moore said.

She said there is a "strong probability" that Neonopolis will be given a new name and there might be a "change of use."

"This project is not compelling enough to draw people out of the casinos," Roush said, adding that the theaters on the third floor haven’t attracted the crowds that were expected.

"There is not enough residential density to support the theaters," Moore said. He added that tourists aren’t supporting the theater complex either.

"Las Vegas doesn’t have as many families coming downtown (as opposed to the Strip)," Moore said. "How many people come into Las Vegas to see a movie? That’s the challenge."

Moore said his company is excited about what’s happening downtown, which had grown somewhat "stale" until new owners began buying up properties around Fremont Street. He said he is looking forward to the "new energy" that Barrick Gaming, which purchased the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike and Western hotels from Jackie Gaughan, is "going to bring to the table," and that the new owners of the Golden Nugget are going "to bring a younger perspective and ”¦ a younger crowd" to the downtown area.