Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2017

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Joe Downtown:

Joe Downtown: Add another to list of businesses departing Container Park


Christopher DeVargas

Owner Gina Quaranto inside Blackbird Studios.

Map of Downtown Container Park

Downtown Container Park

707 Fremont St, Las Vegas

Yet another Container Park business will be leaving, this on the heels of the four other businesses announcing they'd vacate the recently opened downtown development by mid-April.

After the announcement Tuesday that three businesses – Future Restaurant Group’s Pork & Beans, The Beatnik and The Boozery – will move out mid-month, Gina Quaranto said her Blackbird Studio would leave when its lease ended in May.

Quaranto moved into the Container Park at its opening in late November. She came at the invitation of Downtown Project, which funded and oversees the Container Park, an outdoor mall with a popular playground in its center.

Before opening Blackbird Studio in the Container Park, Quaranto, who has another art gallery at 1551 S. Commerce St., had openly criticized Downtown Project. She said the private redevelopment agency of CEO Tony Hsieh was imposing its view of community on downtown instead of fostering the community already there.

Downtown Project said its invitation to Quaranto was an attempt to connect to the community.

Quaranto said today she would be moving out of her second-floor space for many reasons, including that her business, a showcase for art, wasn’t the best fit for the mall.

“Business was hit or miss,” she said, adding she found it difficult to divide her time between two galleries.

Quaranto didn’t pay rent for her Container Park space, she said; she traded her time working on educational projects at Downtown Project’s Learning Village in exchange for the lease.

“I’m happy we spent our five or six months there,” Quaranto also said. “I think we’re leaving at the right time because the heat of the summer is coming. I don’t do well in a cold (air-conditioned) place.”

That said, she said: “If I had gotten more business, I would have stayed.”

Downtown Project has said leases in the mall have ranged from a few months to a few years, so some businesses would be expected to exit relatively soon.

Aside from Blackbird Studio and the three departing businesses of Future Restaurant Group, Alios, an architectural and entertainment lighting business, announced in early March that it would be pulling up stakes this month from the Container Park.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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