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October 27, 2021

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Coming of age: Downtown businesses welcome movie theater as sign of maturity

eclipse theater media preview

Mikayla Whitmore

Eclipse Theaters, which features a restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio, is shown in downtown Las Vegas, Friday, Nov. 22, 2016.

Downtown business owners are anticipating an economic boost from the $21 million Eclipse Theaters, which opened last week after almost three years of planning.

The three-story stone-and-glass box, 814 S. Third St., houses eight auditoriums with spacious leather seats and push-button wait service for high-end bar food. The theater’s restaurant and bar has an outdoor patio that overlooks a burgeoning neo-urban community.

“Anything that brings more people to downtown is a good thing,” said Jerome Harry, owner of Classic Jewel, a cocktail bar and lounge a few blocks away (at the base of the homonymous Juhl residential towers).

“When they have a good time, they come back and tell people about it,” said Harry, who is an investor in Eclipse. “That’s how you grow.”

“It’s really exciting and definitely good for the business community,” said Maria Phelan, director of public relations for the Downtown Project. The theater is not a part of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, but Phelan noted that the Zappos CEO is an investor, too.

“We want to see all of downtown flourish,” Phelan said. “Anything that brings more people to have a great experience means hopefully they’ll stick around a little longer to get something to eat or drink before or after.”

Eclipse and the nearby bars and restaurants contribute to the neighborhood’s overall “walkability,” she said, populating otherwise undeveloped portions of the downtown map.

While much of downtown has been reinvigorated during the last two decades, the area between the Arts District and Fremont Street has remained relatively untouched and not particularly welcoming.

“For us it’s a great thing — the way Eclipse and the businesses around it help connect the Fremont East Entertainment District and the Arts District,” Phelan said.

Eclipse sits among bail bondsmen, law offices and several uniquely Vegas wedding chapels. It also features one of downtown’s few remaining swaths of free street parking.

“The new theater will be a great addition,” said Russell Davis, a longtime downtown high-rise resident who rides his bike semi-regularly to his job as a management analyst for Clark County.

“The bar they have in there is great,” said Davis, who also runs Vegas Pub Crawler — the canopied 12-passenger pedi-cycles that offer guided tours of drinking establishments.

The success of Eclipse, both Harry and Davis agreed, does not create a make-or-break situation for the neighborhood — it merely adds to its appeal.

“We’ve been here awhile now, and we’ve diversified,” Harry said. “This is just another pathway to come be part of enjoying downtown.”

Just last week Harry was expanding into the storefront next door to his bar. He is building it out as an event space for music and comedy performances, birthday parties and wedding receptions.

Classic Jewel’s biggest customer segments, Harry said, include Juhl residents and traffic from the wedding chapels.

“They like to come in here and do a couple of rounds of shots before the big day,” Harry said.

In addition to Harry’s expansion, a convenience store next door is also moving in and building out its interior. And just days before the Eclipse’s grand opening last week, new street lights went up around Third and Fourth streets.

“Brightening the place up is always an important step,” Davis said.

Phelan said she believes that residential development will be the next wave of construction in the area, and the Eclipse Theaters only supports those initiatives. Downtown Project plans to open the five-story Fremont 9, by Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street, in 2017.

“Builders want to see these kinds of amenities near where they’re building,” Phelan said. “A movie theater is the kind of thing people want near their homes. It will definitely help get some people moving to the downtown area.”

“Downtown is on the upswing in a major way,” Harry said. “What we need next is a grocery store.”

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