Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1753 isn’t much to look at. Located at 705 Las Vegas Boulevard North, this abandoned VFW hall is essentially a drab, white stucco box with boarded-up windows and a couple of squares of graffiti-discouraging blue paint slathered unevenly on its façade.
It’s an unlikely place to plant another flag, but that’s exactly what Alison Chambers and “Downtown” Steve Franklin hope to do. They’re transforming the hall into an arts incubator where upstart organizations can occupy Vegas’ somewhat beleaguered Cultural Corridor for a relative pittance. One such group, improv school Vegas Theatre Hub, is already in. “It could be culinary arts, visual arts, performing arts,” Franklin says. “Anything that’s got a little bit of a creative spin to it.”
Those arts groups will have much to work with. The main room, constituting more than half the hall’s nearly 5,000 square feet, is ideal for theater, dance and live music. Flanking the main room is a bar and a kitchen/dining area, where Chambers and Franklin found a few pleasant surprises, including a top-of-the-line stove hood and two restaurant-grade drains.
That nearly compensated for the unpleasant surprises Chambers encountered after she bought the building. Two HVAC units needed replacing; the originals were stripped clean. (The new units have “tweaker-resistant screws,” Franklin says dryly.) And more than once they’ve had to chase trespassers away, though those incidents are lessening: “With the theater-group activity, [trespassers] are less inclined to just hang out in front,” Chambers says.
Arts groups interested in checking out the space can contact Chambers at [email protected] But they’re not taking just anybody. You kinda have to want it. “We’re just going to try to get some cool people in here and do some cool sh*t,” Franklin says.