Friday, Feb. 29, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Tomorrow’s Las Vegas is rising dramatically where Harmon Avenue runs into the Strip at CityCenter, the $8 billion high-rise project that defines a new and daring direction for this town.
Yesterday’s Las Vegas is crumbling where Harmon Avenue crosses Boulder Highway on the east side of town, where Nevada Palace closes its doors at 8 tonight.
If you didn’t know that, or if you wonder whether you should care, no wonder. It was a dive the day it opened, and has been slipping ever since, so its passing isn’t noteworthy for many people.
In a neighborhood distinguished by its weekly-rate motels and pawn shops, the Palace — with all of 481 slot machines — will be missed for its two-for-one lasagna special and coin-in-coin-out slots.
Of course it will be replaced, because that is the equilibrium of development. The Eastside Cannery hotel, a sister of the Cannery in North Las Vegas, is under construction on the site.
This would be big news in other cities — the replacement of a mom-and-pop business with a $250 million, 16-story hotel.
But in Las Vegas, progress is measured on a much larger scale. Just drive down Harmon Avenue and gape at CityCenter.
On this end of Harmon Avenue, progress is marked by a blood drive to commemorate the closing of Nevada Palace. Donors will get a free meal at the new place after it opens this summer.
No implosion here. A front-loader will knock over the already rubber-legged building.
It’s going to kill Shari Beza. She’s been serving cocktails and coffee at Nevada Palace for a quarter-century. She plans on getting all dolled up for work tonight. She’s going to apply waterproof mascara.
“I can’t drive down Boulder Highway and not see this place here,” she said. “It will break my heart.”
On Thursday, the place had long been emptied of table games ($200 limit). About the only things left in the gift shop were a few packs of GPC cigarettes. Just off the casino floor, midday diners at Formica tables were enjoying the daily specials.
The new building will have a 65,000-square-foot casino and six restaurants, including one on the top floor. Just like on the Strip.
That’s a sure sign of progress on this end of Harmon Avenue.