Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2018

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LOOKING IN ON: CITY HALL:

Two versions of Jillian’s demise, from man, wife

RIP Jillian’s, the two-story cafe/pool hall/music venue that was long one of downtown’s successful businesses on the important corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.

That business closed on Nov. 14, but according to Rohit Joshi, who represents the owner of Neonopolis, the mall in which Jillian’s sat, bigger and better things are to come for that space.

According to Joshi, two “major brand name” food and beverage purveyors — he wouldn’t be more specific — are on track to sign leases for the space, one for each floor.

These national businesses were encouraged by the news that the attraction called Star Trek: The Experience would be relocating from the Las Vegas Hilton to Neonopolis, Joshi said. Those plans are for a retrofitted space to include rides, a Star Trek-themed restaurant and a museum.

Joshi said that the prospective food tenants requested that Jillian’s, which is owned by Joshi’s wife, Loraine Kusuhara, be closed to start on renovations so that they could move in quickly.

Kusuhara, however, told Las Vegas Weekly late last month that Jillian’s was closed because of diminishing business.

“I don’t have any more money to lose,” Kusuhara told the Weekly. “I put all my personal savings into making payroll ... It’s crazy. I can’t pull hundreds out of my butt.”

For years, Joshi and Kusuhara have been pitching, prodding, wheedling, selling and publicizing to make the 250,000-square-foot, $100 million mall work. For years, Neonopolis appeared to be failing, with many more storefronts empty than filled.

Yet now, with Star Trek, the Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo and several other restaurants, museums and other businesses now on the way, Neonopolis appears to be on the verge of righting itself.

So there’s no reason to say that Joshi and Kusuhara aren’t both telling the truth — that Jillian’s did close because of financial hardships, and that this happily coincided with the new would-be tenants’ wishes to start moving in ASAP.

We should know more in the next couple of months.

•••

Vital to the life of any downtown is its pedestrian suitability. In other words, is it easy, safe and desirable for citizens to regularly walk the city’s streets?

The City Council is working with the Regional Transportation Commission to make sure that is the case in downtown Las Vegas.

The council recently adopted a 10-year plan prepared by the Transportation Commission, called the Las Vegas Downtown Pedestrian Circulation Study. The 118-page study found obstructions along many downtown sidewalks, including streetlight poles, trash cans and low tree clearances.

The study recommended widening some sidewalks and improving and increasing the lighting near others.

The study also recommends building pedestrian bridges on several busy downtown corners, including Las Vegas Boulevard and Main Street; Las Vegas and Charleston boulevards; and Charleston and Main.

That’s not to mention the pedestrian bridges recommended for Union Park, and four others suggested for the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, at the border between city and Clark County land.

The study defined downtown as being bordered by Washington Avenue to the north, Martin Luther King Boulevard or Interstate 15 to the west, Maryland Parkway to the east and Sahara to the south.

The study suggests that many of the projects will take 10 years to plan and complete.

•••

The eighth annual Festival of Lights and Electric Light Boat Parade is set for noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 13.

The free event will take place at Lake East Drive and Lake Sahara Drive, near Sahara Lake.

Attractions will include crafts, food, pets available for adoption, and local choirs.

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