[Space] Nine lives of buildings

Thankfully we only implode casinos

Damon Hodge

I guess the weekly “eat my banana” contests with women suck-chewing on the fruit weren’t enough to pack ’em in at Hidden Secrets. So when the strip club closed last year, giving way to a rock ’n’ roll joint, it added yet another chapter to the  business history of the two-story building at 5285 Dean Martin Drive. Before it was Hidden Secrets, it was Z Sports Bar and, before that, a hip-hop club. Before that ... Rocky Steele (he’s assistant director of assessments for the County Assessor’s office), what was it before that?

“It’s nearly impossible to track all the businesses that have been here, because property owners can lease facilities to tenants,” he says. “A place could be zoned for a nightclub. Say you leased it to me. I run a hip-hop club, and it closes in six months. Then you lease it to another person, who has a jazz club, and it fails. The records wouldn’t necessarily reflect all the different types of businesses that have operated out of this particular location.”

In Vegas, buildings with dubious histories don’t always die (The Hop was demolished); sometimes they multiply. Restaurants become payday-loan shops, or other restaurants (Big Mama’s soul food operates out of a former McDonald’s franchise). Other buildings change names without changing character; before the  club on 1700 E. Flamingo Road was SRO or Club 702, it was Suge Knight’s Club 662. Still more properties are reworked for specific purposes: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s local campaign office is a converted bank on Flamingo and Pecos-McLeod.

Jeanne Brown, head of UNLV’s Architecture Studies Library, says building re-use is big in architecture. But she’s not sure why some addresses (like the ones below) seem to have nine lives.

4505 S. Maryland Parkway: UNLV students loved Tom & Jerry’s Pub and Grub so much that it made Playboy’s list of Top 100 college bars. Then it closed in 2002. Clubs catering to rock and hip-hop followed, as did trouble—a double homicide in 2004. Today, it’s a laundromat.

4770 S. Maryland Parkway: Another popular haunt for UNLV, this facility has changed names a handful of times in the last seven years—Moose McGillicuddy’s, Moose’s Beach House. It’s had its own share of problems including, most recently, a shooting in October.

3190 W. Sahara Ave.: The Caribbean Cabana enjoyed a good following. In 1999, a man stormed into the bar during a radio station’s Christmas fund-raiser and opened fire, injuring five. It became Hurricane Harry’s, and then Jose Hogs Casino and Cantina.

And not all failing casinos get the dynamite treatment. New properties in old digs include Planet Hollywood (formerly Aladdin), Hooters (formerly San Remo) and the Resort at Summerlin (formerly Regency and Regent Las Vegas).

Now if CityCenter fails ...

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