Historic Huntridge Theater Poised for $18M Revival: New Designs Unveiled

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Last Thursday, the latest owner of Las Vegas’ historic Huntridge Theater released the first designs of the future vision for the venue. It consists of a theater, a cabaret space, and a lobby, all of which are slated for extensive renovations estimated to cost between $15M and $18M, complete within the next two years.

Strategically located at the intersection of Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway, the Huntridge Theater had been acquired in March 2021 for $4M by J Dapper, a reputable Las Vegas developer. Dapper anticipates that the renovation process will commence early next year, a plan that is contingent on the approval of the Las Vegas City Council. This issue will be discussed at the Council meeting on October 18.

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There’s a remarkable history attached to the Huntridge Theater. The edifice borrows its name from international tycoon Leigh S. J. Hunt, who was the owner of the plot on which the Huntridge was constructed. S. Charles Lee, the architect credited for designing the Fox Theater in Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Melrose Hotel, was challenged with designing the Huntridge Theater. Managed by the Commonwealth Theater Company, it officially opened its doors on October 10, 1944, attracting A-list celebrities of the era such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Marlene Dietrich.

In 1947, the comedic duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello stood on the Huntridge stage, promoting their film, “Buck Privates Come Home”. By 1951, the theater’s operations witnessed a reshuffle as a group, partially owned by renowned actresses Loretta Young and Irene Dunne, took over. That year, the theater achieved a historic milestone of becoming the first desegregated theater in Las Vegas. However, by the 1970s, the once-glamorous theater was on a downward spiral, allowing the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley to lease it for private movie screenings.

In 1992, Richard Lenz, who had previously worked as an audio engineer, repurposed the Huntridge into a concert venue, opening up the once divided cineplex. The result was a vibrant hub for live music, hosting famous bands like the Beastie Boys, Green Day, No Doubt and Nine Inch Nails, along with local Las Vegas talent, The Killers.

However, despite the revival and the Huntridge’s listing on the national and state registers of historic places in 1993, the ever-increasing competition from newer casino venues like the House of Blues and the Joint severely impacted its viability. Furthermore, a roof collapse prior to a concert in 1995 weakened its momentum, and although it briefly reopened in 1996, it struggled to regain its former glory.

Eli Mizrachi bought the theater in 2002, closing its doors two years later for planned renovations that never transpired. His plans to convert the theater into office and retail space led to a legal stand-off with the city in 2014, resulting in a settlement in 2016.

Ending years of uncertainty, the Las Vegas City Council approved a plan in 2019 to sell the Huntridge to J Dapper, who had desired to own the property for many years but had been held back by the ongoing legal disputes. Now, with newly released designs for renovation and rejuvenation, there is a sense of optimism as the historic Huntridge Theater braces for a new era of cultural significance.