Downtown

What will become of Vegas’ iconic Blue Angel?

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The Blue Angel Motel will be demolished to make room for new Downtown development, however, it’s beloved Betty Willis sign will be saved.
Photo: Roadsidepictures/Flickr

There’s a winter chill freezing the small audience that’s turned out for the ribbon-cutting at Club 2100 at Fremont Street and Eastern Avenue.

Poinsettias, snacks and a small red carpet have been provided for the event, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman and councilman Bob Coffin use the common buzzwords referencing Downtown these days— renaissance, vision and resurgence.

Above them is the Blue Angel, the Betty Willis-designed chesty blonde in a blue evening gown and halo who has stood for decades atop the now weekly motel by the same name. What happens to this angel as developers for the Las Vegas Gateway Center begin to replace area buildings with 91,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, will be of utmost importance to many Las Vegas residents.

She is adored.

“She’s iconic,” says life-long resident Brian “Paco” Alvarez. “She’s sort of protecting the city and welcoming you to Downtown.

“Growing up, seeing her was the coolest thing. My parents would always point her out when we drove by. She still has that emotional response for me.”

A rendering for future placement the iconic Blue Angel sculpture planned to be part of the gateway at Fremont Street and Eastern Avenue

Those involved with the master-planned development that includes Club 2100 plan to make the Blue Angel part of a planned gateway structure leading into Downtown by removing her from the building, repairing damage and setting her on a new platform at the intersection. A rendering, drawn by Federal Heath’s Brian “Buzz” Leming, was displayed at the ribbon-cutting.

Project developer Arnold Stalk says he’d like her to be part of the Neon Museum’s proposed Living Museum, which will provide visitors with maps to explore historic and valuable signs in situ.

Stalk has been in talks with Neon Museum officials and they seem to be on the same page.

“It’s a special, incredible sign,” says Danielle Kelly, the Neon Museum’s CEO and executive director (and a Weekly contributor). “How can we not be wildly in love with seeing the Blue Angel in the Living Museum?”

The Angel isn’t the only sign in the area that could be included. The sign for the Pair-a-Dice motel, which will also be replaced by the new development, could also be preserved for the Living Museum.

There was no outcry at the event about the demise of the decaying buildings in the area known as Four Corners from natives, longtime residents or even Blue Angel motel guests, most of who welcomed the change to the neglected area.

But the sign is a different story.

“Here, we save the signs,” Stalk said.

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