Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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Retail, gaming center planned at Las Vegas Blvd. property

Click to enlarge photo

The Holy Cow! Casino on Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard is closed on April 11, 2002.

Old Holy Cow!

Developers have acquired the site of the old Holy Cow! restaurant and brewery on Las Vegas Boulevard at Sahara Avenue and plan to build a Times Square-like retail and gaming center there.

The developer is Aspen Highlands Holdings LLC and includes Albuquerque architect George Rainhart and Arizona businessman Steve Johnson.

Plans on file with the city show a two-story, 40-foot-high center that would have 37,100 square feet of floor space and include a 9,000-square-foot casino, a restaurant and a tavern -- but no hotel.

Aspen Highlands plans to seek approvals for the project during a July 9 hearing before the Las Vegas Planning Commission.

Once city approvals are obtained, the developer plans to proceed immediately with taking down the Holy Cow! structure and building the project with an opening planned for fall 2010, said spokeswoman Lee Haney of Rogich Communications Group.

It would have a Walgreens and extensive LED advertising signage with full-motion video wrapping around Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue.

The electronic signage would include a half-moon shaped sign rising to 137 feet. During a later phase, a sail-like sign rising to 547 feet would be added.

Johnson has been involved in several Walgreens developments in Las Vegas, including the one catering to tourists at the Venetian resort, an Aspen Highlands spokeswoman said.

The cost of the project wasn't disclosed. The larger sail-like sign has been proposed to the city, but that portion of the request will be withdrawn for now.

"We felt it was prudent to scale back what was originally contemplated for this site to something that we believe is realistic to build in these economic times," Johnson, managing member of Aspen Highlands Holdings, said Wednesday in a statement. "That said, we remain excited about the opportunity to create a gateway to the city through the development of a casino and Walgreens on such a high profile corner, including a state-of-the-art LED sign component that among other things will serve as the city’s own ‘Welcome to THE City (of Las Vegas)' iconic sign."

The location is at the southern end of Las Vegas with unincorporated Clark County and the Las Vegas Strip to the south.

“The applicant believes that the entire structure will provide an ‘iconic’ element at a location that is the gateway to the city of Las Vegas,'' said a letter to the city from the development team.

The Planning Commission staff is opposed to the larger sign, saying “it will have a negative visual impact on the neighboring residential developments to the north and east.''

Because the area is within an airport overlay district, the larger sign would need a variance because of its height. But the developer said the height shouldn't be an issue because the nearby Sahara and Stratosphere hotel-casinos are both taller.

The Holy Cow! Casino, Cafe and Brewery, a part of the Big Dog's Hospitality Group, closed in 2002 in the aftermath of the economic slowdown after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then a high-rise condominium was proposed for the high-profile site, but that didn't pan out.

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