Las Vegas Sun

January 23, 2018

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Stupak looks at Moulin Rouge makeover

Gaming entrepreneur Bob Stupak said Tuesday he is considering several options for revamping the historic Moulin Rouge, the first interracial hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Stupak said he and Moulin Rouge owner Bart Maybie have "met and talked a couple of times" about a $20 million plan to restore the property to its original condition.

"All the original wood is still there and can be refurbished," Stupak said Tuesday. "The original 1955 etched glass behind the bar is still there and should never be changed.

"The cost of buying the entire place, bringing it up to building safety code and restoring it should run from $15 million to $20 million," he said.

Among alternatives Stupak said he's considering is swapping his 300-room Thunderbird hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard for the Bonanza Road landmark, which includes a showroom, 110 hotel rooms and a small casino and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stupak is founder of Vegas World and the Stratosphere Tower and a long-time believer in the economic potential of downtown redevelopment. On Monday, the City Council rejected his plan to build a Titantic-themed resort in the city, but that hasn't deterred Stupak's enthusiasm for new projects.

He insisted his plan for the Moulin Rouge restoration, though, "isn't a 'Stupak Flash"' -- a pejorative description some competitors have used to describe the flamboyant entrepreneur's frequent creative inspirations.

"When the place was up for auction four or five years ago, I went in and was the high bidder," Stupak said. "But the owner wouldn't accept the bid and kept the property.

"I went back later and had some more talks, but nothing came of it. A week or two ago, I took a ride down there and found out Bart Maybie owned it. It all started up again when we met and talked."

Maybie is a Canadian native and 10-year Las Vegas resident who has successfully refurbished distressed properties in several locales. He'd bought the Moulin Rouge two years ago for $3 million and began investing additional money to renovate it.

The Moulin Rouge's 351-seat theater attracted some of the entertainment world's best-known black performers in the 1950s, drawing appreciative multi-racial crowds in a city where segregation was the rule of the day.

Stupak said he'd like to increase the showroom's size to 500 seats and change its name from Club Rouge to the Cotton Club Room, after the famed Harlem entertainment venue, offering top-name black entertainment.

"I'm also going to do my best to get Mike Tyson to do an exhibition fight there," he said.

The next step "is to put a deal in writing," Stupak said.

"I'm working with a high-profile entertainer who might become a partner," he said. "If that happens, his name would be on it. It would be 'Mr. X's' Moulin Rouge, not Bob Stupak's Moulin Rouge."

And if it all comes together, Stupak said, he wants to open the revamped version Dec. 26.

"That's going to be a huge week, and it's in the same century that the original Moulin Rouge opened up," he said.