In front of me sits a small poster of the Huntridge Theatre. It was drawn by illustrator Hernan Valencia, his contribution to the 2013 crowdfunding campaign meant to stir the community and inspire investors to save the run-down, 71-year-old venue. I scored one for my own $25 offering, and it’s all I may ever have to show for it.
Last week, KNPR’s State of Nevada reported that the efforts of Huntridge Revival LLC—which is Downtown entrepreneur Michael Cornthwaite and First Friday Foundation Executive Director Joey Vanas—to buy and restore the theater have officially ceased. Cornthwaite wrote to the city redevelopment office that he and Vanas would neither meet their goals for the project, nor use the $1 million Centennial Commission grant the city had set aside for the purchase of the theater. Additionally, Cornthwaite (who declined to comment further) disclosed on Facebook the income/expense sheet of the LLC, including its donations and the public’s, and expenditures ranging from legal fees to an asbestos survey. Currently, the account has less than $500.
It would seem that this development, while disappointing, might also nudge any wealthy fence-sitters—or the city, for that matter—into action before the state covenants for the historic Huntridge expire in 2017, at which point owner Eli Mizrachi can raze the building. (Complicating matters is the suit the state has brought against Mizrachi for failing to meet the minimum standards set by the covenants.) Its future seems bleaker than ever, but it’s a future nonetheless.
As such, some community members view the LLC retreat as a speed bump, like Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin, who told KNPR that “it’s not over,” and local artist/entrepreneur Todd VonBastiaans. “I gave $10,000 to the project because I believe in all the good that could have come out of it, and if anyone could have made it happen it would have been Joey and Michael,” VonBastiaans said via text, adding that he also understood their decision to bow out.
He didn’t suggest he wanted his money back, unlike some people weighing in online. With the campaign goal met, the low-level donor perks distributed and the project’s account balance nearly depleted, refunds aren’t possible. The Indiegogo campaign didn’t promise a new Huntridge; it was about covering costs to put the project in motion and testing the public’s interest in preservation. If anything, the reactions to last week’s news indicate that not only does interest remain high, but the community is feeling the nudge, too.