A developer in Beverly Hills has proposed the construction of a 60-story mixed-use casino resort and residential complex in Las Vegas’ Historic Westside. The Las Vegas Planning Commission will review Shlomo Meiri’s concept for the Harlem Nights resort and make suggestions at the meeting on Tuesday, April 11th.
An artist’s rendering of the tower for the proposed new Harlem Nights casino hotel in Las Vegas’ Historic Westside, At 687 feet, the tower would be 27 feet taller than the guitar-shaped hotel recently approved by the Clark County Commission for the soon-to-be-former Mirage on the Strip. (Image: Harlem Nights)
Mieri’s plans include 764 hotel rooms, 458 residential units, a casino, a 900-seat theater, a rooftop bar, retail, and a restaurant. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the estimated cost is around $700M.
The project takes its name from the 1989 Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor film, which portrays the renowned African-American community of New York City in the 1930s.
The Town Tavern is pictured as it appeared shortly after opening in 1955. (Image: vintagelasvegas.com)
History of the Site
The resort would be built on nearly 2 acres of property owned by Meiri at 600 West Jackson Avenue, at the intersection of F Street. This is the previous site of the well-known Town Tavern. Opened on July 5, 1955, this 7,000 square-foot nightclub – which also featured blackjack and craps – was a popular destination for African-American culture before the desegregation of the Las Vegas Strip in 1960.
At first, the Town Tavern was overshadowed by the nearby Moulin Rouge, which became the first fully desegregated casino hotel in the United States when it opened 42 days before the Town Tavern in the same community. (A photo of two Moulin Rouge showgirls was featured on the June 20, 1955 cover of Life magazine.)
The old Town Tavern building got a new sign in 2016, but the Tokyo Casino never opened to the public. (Image: Historic Las Vegas Project)
Unfortunately, the Moulin Rouge only operated for six months before it closed under mysterious circumstances, leaving its legacy to be passed down to the Town Tavern. The Town Tavern became renowned for drop-in performances by iconic artists such as Louis Armstrong and the Ink Spots, and an audience that often included the likes of Cab Calloway, Chubby Checker, Nat King Cole, and Sammy Davis Jr.
The Town Tavern was renamed the New Town Tavern when new owners took over in 1959. It closed in 1970, but reopened in 1981 as the Ultra New Town Tavern, which featured 36 slot machines and two gaming tables. In 2003, one year after the death of its last owner/operator, the roof of the club collapsed. The building was deemed unsafe and boarded up by the city of Las Vegas in 2010.
Many Challenges Ahead
This artist’s rendering shows the massive scale of the proposed Harlem Nights project. (Harlem Nights)
Approval of the Harlem Nights project is far from a sure thing. In 2016, the Nevada Gaming Control Board rejected a proposal from the previous owner, Steve Hayashi, to convert it into a casino resort with a 400-room hotel and a 2,000-seat theater. The board questioned whether Hayashi had secured sufficient funding to push through the $2B project.
The rejection came after Hayashi had already spent $400K remodeling the Town Tavern. (The building’s sign was changed to read Tokyo Casino, an enterprise that never opened there.)
City staff have already raised serious concerns about the current proposal. The proposed height of its tower, 60 stories, requires an increase of 53 stories in the maximum height allowed in this airport overlay district, according to documents filed with the planning commission. In addition, an exemption to the area’s parking regulations and a public alleyway vacation would also be necessary.
A report by city staff members recommends denying all zoning changes other than the alleyway vacation. Staff wrote that the Historic Westside is in need of environmental improvements and social services and that a 60-story building would be “incongruous with the surrounding area.”
“Neither growth nor development factors in the surrounding community indicate a need or appropriateness for this rezoning,” the report states.