After a decade of inactivity, the large building at 2324 Las Vegas Blvd. South was finally demolished in early May. Last imagined as the high-rise condo tower “Ivana,” the corner was previously home to Foxy’s Firehouse Casino (1976-88) and its impressive wraparound animated neon, featuring a foxy fox wielding a frothy firehose. Four years after Foxy’s, successful local mini-chain Big Dog’s opened a microbrewery there, one that struggled until 9/11 stalled tourism and killed it altogether.
Next up was Ivana Trump and her eponymous never-built 73-story condo tower—a height intended to best Donald’s project just south on the Strip. Poor “Ivana” was abandoned in the mid-2000s. The good? It’s hard to imagine yet another underinhabited residential tower glutting the market. The bad? The abandoned building rotted in the sun for 10 years until a few weeks ago. The weird? After years of tourists having to venture off-Strip to buy toiletries, we now have a chain drugstore almost every block along the Boulevard, and it looks like we may soon have another one right here.
Ironically, with the stylish and youth-oriented boutique resort SLS Vegas (hopefully) improving the opposite corner in 2014, a microbrewery would likely do well—22 years too late for Big Dog’s. But whereas hipsters love microbrews, every Vegas visitor needs sunscreen and aspirin. Here’s hoping they sell it with a side of tender sympathy.
My Memorial Day visitors want to see the real Las Vegas. Where is it?
How about showing them the throbbing tan gristle at a dayclub? Kidding. Defining the “real” Las Vegas is as elusive as defining a “real” city. “Real Vegas” might overlap with “old Vegas” (the Peppermill, Golden Steer, the Golden Gate) or it might be more tilted toward “historic Vegas” (the Springs Preserve, the Mormon Fort, El Sombrero). It could be “cultured Vegas” (The Smith Center, UNLV), “hip Vegas” (East Fremont, the Pinball Hall of Fame) or “suburban Vegas” (take your pick). You need to strike a balance between yourself and your guests, and show them places they’d want to see but likely wouldn’t unless a local showed them. Rehab might be just as “real” as Red Rock Canyon, but nobody has trouble finding it, and therein lies the difference.