Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Like many fans of the shuttered Huntridge Theater, J Dapper grew up attending concerts there and has wanted for years to see it revived.
Now, as the local developer is on the cusp of buying the theater, Dapper plans to return the former movie theater to the way it looked and felt when it was built in 1943.
The sleek, modern architecture won’t change, but the theater will be used for something new, such as a concert venue, a performing arts theater or a community arts space, Dapper said.
“There are a lot of things that have to fall into place to make it something specific. It’s definitely not going to be a movie theater,” he said.
A number of potential tenants have expressed interest in working with Dapper on the theater at Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway, he said. In addition to reusing the theater, Dapper hopes to add accessory structures, such as restaurants, condominiums or office space, elsewhere on the four-acre parcel. This will complement the theater and make the venture more profitable, he said.
As one of many people to express interest in buying or “saving” the theater since it closed in 2004, Dapper said three key factors made the sale possible: Support from the city, a realistic sale price and a growing interest in downtown from investors.
“If I was doing this without the city’s help, it would never get done,” Dapper said.
Dapper credited City Attorney Brad Jerbic in particular for being instrumental in the deal, which was publicly announced Wednesday. He needed the city’s help because of Huntridge’s historic status — the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — as well as the building’s structural and safety issues. Part of the roof is caved in and the state remains in litigation with owned Eli Mizrachi, who allegedly failed to preserve the theater over the last 15 years.
Although Mizrachi has been criticized for his handling of the property, Dapper believes that he cares about the theater.
“I think (Mizrachi) sincerely wants something good to happen with it, but he’s been kind of beat down over the years,” Dapper said.
Mizrachi did not respond to requests for comment, but said in July that selling the theater was difficult because he wanted the next owners to open it as an arts or entertainment venue.
“We didn’t want to put a Walgreens or whatnot in it,” Mizrachi said. “So there’s not too many entertainment users that are readily found.”
Because the city is facilitating the sale, it won’t be official until the Las Vegas City Council votes on the purchase and sale agreement on Nov. 6, city spokesperson Jace Radke said. Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, whose ward includes the theater, is optimistic about the deal based on what she knows so far.
“We are excited that maybe we’re finally going to be able to make some strides on this property and make it accessible like it once was to the community,” Diaz said.
Dapper has been investing in Huntridge neighborhood projects for some years. He redesigned the Huntridge Shopping Center, adding the iconic, mid-century-style “Huntridge” sign and commissioning the mural behind it, as well as the Henriksen Butler building on 11th Street. But he sees a lot of momentum in the area now in particular.
“There has never been a better time to develop downtown,” Dapper said.