Las Vegas Sun

January 17, 2018

Currently: 63° — Complete forecast

John Katsilometes checks out a new jewelry store at Neonopolis with a long history in downtown Las Vegas

Three years ago John Del Prado III faced unimaginable tragedy and said, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

Three years later, he has fulfilled that promise.

On the morning of Sept. 2, 2003, Del Prado's mother, Elisa Del Prado, and grandmother, Juana Quiroga, were bludgeoned to death in the Del Prado family business, World Merchants-Importers jewelry store on the corner of Carson and Fourth streets in downtown Las Vegas. (The man charged with the crime, a jewelry repairman, Avetis Archanian, was convicted in 2004 and was sentenced to death, although he has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.)

But by the time the crimes were committed, Del Prado says, he had soured on the location - foot traffic ebbed after the Clark County Law Library, the old Clark County Courthouse and a couple of banks moved out. So he seized an opportunity over the summer to move when a Delaware-based company fronted by Las Vegas businessman Rohit Joshi purchased Neonopolis for $25 million.

As old businesses closed and deserted Neonopolis, Del Prado pushed against the tide and settled into the top floor of the retail project. The business has a new name, Del Prado Jewelers, but as always it specializes in diamonds, gold and furs.

"Half of the reason we moved was because of the tragedy that happened, but that's not the whole reason," said Del Prado, who was born in Havana but has lived in Las Vegas for 45 of his 47 years.

"You didn't have to be a genius to know business had slowed down. We lost all of our foot traffic, our lease was up at the other location. I looked at Neonopolis, with a new owner and new plans, and I see it being a huge success."

Del Prado's assessment of the oft-derided Neonopolis project can't be discounted. His family opened its first jewelry store on Fremont Street in 1975. A second Fremont Street store opened in the early 1990s, but was soon forced out through eminent domain when the Fremont Street Experience attraction began construction. The Carson and Fourth location worked only when masses of lawyers and bank customers would walk in off the street; today, the downtown landscape has changed.


Author, sports handicapper, cable chat show frequenter, Republican Party cash lure and tireless self-promoter Wayne Allyn Root told MSNBC last week that the GOP will lose control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. He's booked on Fox News Channel next week and will say the same thing there. In Nevada, Root predicts victories for Republicans: Jim Gibbons in the gubernatorial race against Dina Titus, John Ensign in his Senate race against Jack Carter and Jon Porter in his race against Tessa Hafen. Root is also looking at 2010 for his own run at the Senate; on Sunday night, Root hosted a fundraiser for the cash-strapped (cough!) Ensign ...

Fourth graders from Reynaldo Martinez Elementary School were invited to the Orleans Arena on Thursday afternoon to skate with Brian Boitano, Nancy Kerrigan, Michael Weiss, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman during a tuneup for today's taping of the "Capital One Holiday Celebration on Ice." The students were selected by Communities in Schools Inc., the nation's largest dropout prevention organization, which arranged a vignette featuring the students skating with the stars. The show airs Christmas Day on NBC ...

Always eager to educate, the Nevada Mining Association and Las Vegas Natural History Museum are holding an interactive exhibit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Natural History Museum at 900 Las Vegas Blvd. North. The kids will be fascinated to know that, although Nevada is known as the Silver State, its most profitable precious metal is gold. Mining is the state's second-largest industry, behind gaming ...

More than 300 Danes (including, we hear, members of Danish royalty) will descend on the Suncoast on Nov. 15-16. That's because one of the biggest stars in Scandinavia, multifaceted performer Tom Dane is playing the Suncoast Showroom. Dane plays a dozen instruments, does impressions, sings, dances, all of that ...

A reader spots conflicting perspectives over the weekend on vanity plates side-by-side in heavy traffic northbound on U.S. 95: A black BMW with NOYUPE, and a white Mercedes Benz with MYLWBENZ. We deduce "no yuppie" on the BMW; "my little white Benz" on the Mercedes.