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March 27, 2015

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Joe Downtown: State panel to look into whether Huntridge promises were broken


Steve Marcus

An exterior view of the Huntridge Theater on the southeast corner of East Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. Designed by architect S. Charles Lee, the theatre opened on October 10, 1944. It has been closed since January 1, 2002.

Huntridge Theater

The Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs will look into the possibility the Huntridge Theater's current owners broke an agreement made several years ago in return for state funding.

Rebecca Palmer, acting state historic preservation officer, said Monday the July 31 meeting of the commission would begin the process of “looking for some kind of documentation” related to a covenant between theater owners and the state.

The covenant came to light at a meeting Thursday of downtown Las Vegas residents to discuss the theater’s possible revival by a new group that wants to buy it. Bob Stoldal, a TV executive and member of the cultural affairs commission board, produced a copy of the covenant.

Opened in 1944 by a group that included actresses Loretta Young and Irene Dunn, the Huntridge is one of the earliest movie theaters built in Las Vegas. When single-screen cinemas became passe, the Huntridge billed itself as a concert venue. In 1993 it won recognition as both a state and national historical registered site.

Musicians who have played there included Sheryl Crow and Kelly Osbourne, daughter of rock star Ozzy Osbourne. Popular local band 12-Volt Sex played their last show there in 2002 before breaking up.

Signed in 1997 by previous owners of the theater, Friends of the Huntridge Theater Inc., the covenant granted almost $800,000 in state funds to the theater in return for certain demands. Among them, the theater had to be open at least 12 days a year. It also said the owners had to maintain the building “so as to preserve (its) architectural, historical, cultural and/or archeological integrity.”

In describing the building’s condition, Stoldal asked: “It’s terrible. You have to squint and think about what it could be.”

If terms are not kept, according to language in the covenant, the state “shall have the right to file suit … to cause the applicant to cure said violations or to obtain the return of funds.”

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