LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Known as the oldest mall in Las Vegas, the historic mall may soon see more restaurants, art exhibits and liquor to combat the area’s deteriorating quality.
The neighborhood, located on East Sahara and Maryland Parkway, was originally built in the 1960s, according to Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom. Since then, however, people living nearby have said that has changed for the worse.
“It was a scary place,” said Nick Spirtos, who has lived opposite the center for 20 years. “Lots of wandering, lots of wandering, and then just empty and desolate, it scares people. [It] takes you away.
The few remaining businesses feel like it’s them, and an empty parking lot. Vickie’s Diner moved to the center in 2021, where manager Michael Hawkins said nefarious activity was seen almost daily outside the restaurant.
“You never know what you’re going to see when you walk through the parking lot,” Hawkins said outside the restaurant Thursday morning. “When we opened our doors, there were a lot of, uh, call girls, etc.”
Other criminal activity has surrounded the center for years, including a 2021 mass shooting at an unlicensed hookah lounge that injured 12 people and killed one. An assessment of data from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Department showed law enforcement responded to the blockage 42 times in the past year.
Commissioner Segerblom said much of this deterioration was due to buyers turning to nearby new builds over the past 60 years.
“The truth is, new areas become old areas, then we keep building and building, then old areas become slums,” Segerblom said in his downtown office on Thursday morning.
But that is not the perception he and other county commissioners have planned for the future of this center.
Segerblom detailed the public’s appeal to the neighborhood’s shopping, nightlife and gay culture in the last century that “begs” to return to this one.
“Before modern times, when you couldn’t be openly gay, there were bars there and places where gay people went,” Segerblom said. “Historically this was where everyone went to shop.”
Preserving that history, he said, is the goal. Renaming the part of Karen Avenue that runs south of the center as “Liberace Avenue”, coupled with a Liberace Museum and an increased number of art galleries and exhibits, are two ideas.
Additionally, adding more bars, restaurants and even an underground Tesla tunnel on the Strip is also on the table, he said. This requires changes to current zoning laws, which do not allow businesses that sell alcohol to be side by side.
As for the safety of potential buyers, he said the wide-open car park will allow police to “patroll much better” once businesses move in and provide a “presence” that makes customers feel safe.
“Right now everyone in the world is coming to Las Vegas to invest. Hopefully it will last for several years, so people are looking at this area and saying ‘hello?’ that’s great!” Segerblom said. can’t find a place with so much land, so close to a big economic area [the strip] anywhere in the country.
The county commissioner added that a list of bars and entrepreneurs are waiting to move in, while some businesses in the Arts District have already done so for the cheaper rent. The changes could take up to two years, but could start as early as February.