Las Vegas Sun

September 4, 2015

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Residents critical of pawn shop’s plan to move into neighborhood

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin opposes move

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Bob Coffin

Proposed pawn shop location

The plan to relocate a pawn shop obstructing the multi-million dollar redevelopment of a downtown Las Vegas casino is drawing criticism from local residents, who say they don’t want the business in their neighborhood.

Ace Loan, currently located at 215 N. 3rd Street, sits adjacent to the Lady Luck hotel and casino, which has been targeted for a $100 million facelift that will see the site reborn as Downtown Grand and become an anchor for further development in the area.

The owner of Ace Loan, Howard Bock, wants to move his store to a building he already owns at 519 E. St. Louis Ave., an area bordered by residential apartments and housing that is also home to the Super Pawn shop.

The Ace Loan would sit just 50 feet from the residential area and 20 feet from the other pawn shop. City code requires a 200-foot separation from the neighborhood and a 1,000-foot separation from similar businesses. On Wednesday, a representative for Ace Loan asked the city for a waiver to allow the move.

Todd Kessler, a consultant representing Ace Loan, said Bock wanted to move to the location because he already owned the building on St. Louis Avenue, and that its presence wouldn’t disturb the neighborhood because a pawnshop was already there. Kessler also noted that the Bock family has held a pawn license in Las Vegas for 60 years.

But Steve Franklin, who lives near the proposed site, said residents worry that Ace Loan moving in could lead to a proliferation of pawn shops, car title loan stores and other businesses that would affect the perception of the neighborhood and ultimately could affect property values.

“We want to protect the integrity of the neighborhood,” he told the council Wednesday.

Scott Swank, who lives in the nearby Beverly Green neighborhood, said residents he’s spoken with are “enormously opposed” to the pawn shop moving in.

Unlike Super Pawn, Ace Loan’s entrance would face the neighborhood and have a “visceral impact on those of us who live there,” said Swank, an employee of Vegas.com, a company owned by the Greenspun Corporation, which also owns the Greenspun Media Group and the Las Vegas Sun.

Councilman Bob Coffin, whose ward the pawn shop is looking to move into, opposed the location of the store and expressed dismay that its relocation was being forced by bigger business interests in Las Vegas.

“What I see here is a move being made to ease a downtown development project and push this into the laps of the neighbors,” Coffin said. “That’s the overarching issue and it’s not in print here. It really is something that’s on everybody’s mind, so let’s bring it out. I don’t think these neighbors should be asked to solve a business dispute between Mr. Bock and the developers (of Downtown Grand).”

Coffin considered moving to reject the waivers for the pawn shop outright, but was convinced by other council members to delay the vote until Jan. 18 to give Bock time to meet with neighbors and possibly work out a compromise.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she’s hopeful that Ace Loan can modify the property to move the entrance away from facing the neighborhood, and install signage and landscaping in a way that appeases residents.

But Franklin said he wasn’t optimistic an agreeable solution could be reached.

“I just think this is a bad place for a pawn shop,” he said.

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