LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Known as Las Vegas’ oldest mall, the Historic Mall may soon see more restaurants, art exhibits and booze to combat the area’s declining quality.
According to Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, the neighborhood, located on the East Sahara and Maryland Parkway, was originally built in the 1960s. However, since then, people living nearby say it has changed for the worse.
“It was a scary place,” said Nick Spirtos, who has lived across the street from downtown for 20 years. “A lot of vagabonds, a lot of vagabonds, and then just empty and deserted, that scares people. [It] keeps you away.
Few other companies seem to be them, and an empty parking lot. Vickie’s Diner moved downtown in 2021, where manager Michael Hawkins said nefarious activity was observed outside the restaurant almost daily.
“You never know what you’ll see when you cross the parking lot,” Hawkins said outside the restaurant on Thursday morning. “When we first opened, there were a lot of call girls and stuff.”
The center has been surrounded by other criminal activity for years, including a mass shooting at an unlicensed hookah lounge in 2021 which left 12 people injured and one killed. An evaluation of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Department’s data showed that law enforcement responded to this lockdown 42 times in the past year.
Commissioner Segerblom said much of this deterioration was due to buyers focusing on newer construction nearby over the last 60 years.
“The truth is new areas become old areas and then we just build and build and then old areas become slums,” Segerblom said in his downtown office on Thursday morning.
But that’s not the perception he and other county commissioners envisioned for the center’s future.
Segerblom detailed the public’s attraction to the neighborhood’s shops, nightclubs, and gay culture in the previous century, which “beg” for a comeback in this century.
“Before modern times, when you couldn’t be openly gay, there were bars and places where gay people went,” Segerblom said. “Historically, this was where everyone went shopping.”
He said the goal is to preserve that history. Renaming the portion of Karen Avenue that runs south of downtown to “Liberace Avenue”, in conjunction with the Liberace Museum and increased art galleries and exhibits, are two ideas.
Also on the table, he said, is bringing more bars, more restaurants, and even a Tesla underground tunnel to the runway. This requires changes to existing zoning laws that do not allow businesses selling alcohol to be located next to each other.
As for the safety of potential customers, he said the wide-open car park would allow police to “patrol it much better” as more businesses moved in and provide a “presence” that would make shoppers feel safe.
“Right now, everyone in the world is coming to Las Vegas to invest. Hopefully it will last a few years so people look at the area and say hello? it’s perfect!” Segerblom said. “You can’t find a place with so much land, so close to a large economic area [the strip] anywhere in the country.”
The county commissioner added that a list of bars and entrepreneurs was waiting to move in, with some Arts District businesses already doing so for cheaper rent. The changes could take up to two years, but could start as early as February.