Neon Museum/Westar Architects
Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.
Amid a sea of neon signs recalling Las Vegas’ heritage, officials from the city and the Neon Museum talked about construction of a visitors center they hope will help the site grow into a key piece of downtown’s revitalization.
The $1.5 million project will see the historic La Concha motel lobby reimagined as a welcoming space to the Neon Boneyard. The project will also include building space for offices, events and educational programming.-
Scheduled for completion in May, the center will allow the museum to increase the number of tours it offers, Executive Director Danielle Kelly said.
The museum is only able to offer two in-depth tours a day because of staff constraints but is expecting to add more staff with the completion of the center, she said. Kelly said she hopes the museum can become a meeting place for the community.
“Preservation is a unique challenge in Las Vegas. But it’s something we’ve found that tourists are very attracted to, and slowly locals are actually becoming very excited about it,” she said. “We’re just excited to offer...locals another example of something to be proud of.”
Along with the openings of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the Mob Museum and a new location for the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, the Neon Museum’s growth will contribute to a renaissance in downtown, said Bill Marion, the chair of the museum’s board of trustees.
“All of these things will come together to create a real cultural wonderland for the city of Las Vegas,” Marion said. “We’ve worked very hard to turn this dream into a reality.”
Mayor Carolyn Goodman predicted the museum will become another “iconic stopping spot” for tourists.
“All of these different neon signs have created their own art form,” she said. “When (visitors) hear about the Boneyard and the Neon Museum as a place to visit to see the historical value of where these signs have been in the growth of Las Vegas...it’s going to be a real draw.”
Former Mayor Oscar Goodman, speaking at the event on behalf of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, called the Neon Museum another welcome addition to downtown and said the site is already drawing interest from Hollywood executives who want to use the neon signs as a backdrop for films and television shows.
“A great effort is being made to bring those industries into our community,” he said. “This is just part of the support and backup that will attract folks from Hollywood and elsewhere to participate in that kind of development in our city.”
Construction on the project is being done by local minority-owned company SAVI construction and is expected to create about 27 jobs for construction workers and contractors, officials said.
The site is located at 770 N. Las Vegas Boulevard and is leased by the city to the nonprofit that oversees the museum. The nonprofit has raised the funds for construction and received a $300,000 grant from the LVCVA to help move the La Concha lobby from the Strip, near the Riviera, to the Neon Boneyard.