North of the Strip and south of Downtown, there’s a magical stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that still glows with the authentic neon of Old Vegas. A paragon of Googie architecture, the Holiday Motel sign is beloved by both tourists and locals. But new ownership and a planned renovation have made its future uncertain.
Developer Kamran Foulad has been investing in Las Vegas real estate for nearly two decades and intends to bring new restaurants and microbreweries to the Arts District. This fall, he purchased the Holiday Motel and plans to transform it into Enclave Luxury Apartments.
Upon hearing the news, photographer and Las Vegas native Nick Leonard feared the worst. Still reeling from the same developer’s 2014 remodel of the Bonanza Lodge into Sterling Gardens—in which a historic sign’s neon was replaced with newer, less-distinctive materials—Leonard suspects the same could happen again. So he launched an online petition (bit.ly/2E6ixV6) requesting that the owners maintain the sign in its original state and not replace it with “faux neon” LED. In one week, nearly 370 people signed on with their support.
The developers seem a bit flummoxed by the unexpected attention. The person who answered the phones at partner Oaktree Capital said, “We like the sign. I believe we’re just keeping it.” When pressed for more details, he demurred, saying that things remain in the planning process.
In the meantime, interest in this unlikely Las Vegas landmark simmers. A Neon Museum rep said the museum hopes the sign will be left as is, and that it would welcome a conversation with the owners, if they’re interested.
Nevada Preservation Foundation executive director Heidi Swank would prefer renovations be done with a “light touch,” adding that “Las Vegas has many cute and historically significant motor courts like the Holiday Motel. Sadly, we have lost so many.”