Joe Downtown: With influx of residents, can a downtown theater thrive?


A rendering of the exterior of the 54,000-square-foot, three-story Eclipse Theater.

Click to enlarge photo

This is an aerial view of where the Eclipse Theater will be built if approved, at the southwest corner of Gass Avenue and 3rd Street.

Here is more evidence that downtown's redevelopment has taken off: Ideas once merely discussed are moving toward reality.

One of those is an eight-screen movie theater, tentatively called Eclipse Theater, that would include bar service and a restaurant. Plans will go before the city Planning Commission next week, when the developer will seek a special-use permit for the property.

Sharet Holdings II LLC is the developer of the 53,855-square-foot project on 0.80 acre on the southwest corner of Gass Avenue and 3rd Street, on the same block as Newport Lofts, a downtown high-rise.

According to plans by KME Architects, the theater would have “food and alcohol service to select screening rooms.” It would also include a second-floor restaurant with outside seating and a parking garage with 48 spaces (three handicapped).

The property is currently undeveloped with big patches of dead Bermuda grass and desert rock. During the misbegotten Las Vegas boom of the mid-2000s, when high-rise development ideas were as numerous as bail bond shops, a different developer wanted to put a 760-foot-high, 65-story mixed-use building at the site with 425 living units.

That plan went nowhere.

Sharet Holdings II LLC, whose manager is listed as Sharet Davidyan, purchased the property for $810,000 in 2011. He could not be reached for comment.

Documents filed for a special-use permit say plans include eight movie screens on the second floor, with seating for 540 people. The third floor would be reserved for offices and a VIP lounge. Also included would be a commercial kitchen and tavern-limited establishment.

The grayish color-scheme of the building, documents say, is part of an effort to mimic the color scheme of nearby City Hall.

As plans for the theater move forward, the question on everyone’s mind will be: Can it survive?

More people have moved downtown into the few high-rises and surrounding neighborhoods since the early 2000s, so customer support for a theater might be higher this time around.

More than 10 years ago, Neonopolis, at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, opened with a third-floor multiplex. Not long after opening, the theater fell on hard times. Moviegoers could see first-run blockbusters in a virtually empty theater.

The theater was leased last year by Krave, which yanked out the seats to make room for what was billed as the world’s largest gay nightclub. That idea fizzled after the club opened briefly then was closed by the state due to unspecified tax issues.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.