LETS SAVE La Concha in LAS VEGAS!

ARCHITECTURE AND PRESERVATION NEWS for the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee (ModCom) and other Mid Century Modern, Googie, International, Art Deco, 20th Century design

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:09 pm


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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:57 pm

Here is a response I have received....

4/15/04
FROM: Mark Ryzdynski
Museum Administrator
Clark County Museum

SUBJECT: La Concha Lobby Preservation

I am writing you regarding the “La Conchaâ€￾ lobby property, after your email to Clark County Commissioner Maxfield was referred to the Clark County Museum.

The Clark County Museum is a county history museum that is located in Henderson, Nevada, on the Boulder Highway. The museum has a number of historic Southern Nevada residences on exhibit.

I visited the past site of the La Concha Hotel and found the lobby feature and a parking lot where the hotel once stood. I spoke with one of the employees of Dream Car Rentals, the currant occupant of the lobby feature and he said, he was unaware of any future use of the structure, other than as a car rental site. Employees of Dream Car Rentals were repairing and repainting the structure.

The La Concha lobby feature is of historic interest and the remaining portion of it really should be preserved in “situâ€￾. The La Concha lobby draws its historical significance by virtue of its significant architecture and its place in history on the Las Vegas Strip. An artifact and its environment give a unique provenience that combined, offer a singular non-generic history. A second aguement for preservation in “situâ€￾ is the near impossibility of a successful relocation of the La Concha lobby feature. My visit to the site, revealed an un-reinforced masonry structure with extensive channel metal and large glass panel walls that could not move as a unit. The lobby’s back or east wall is attached and formed to a large two-story remnant wall of the hotel, and is made of cemented concrete block. These types of walls do not move at all well, they are designed to stay in one place

This opinion is based on my experience as an archaeologist with historic preservation experience while working with residential historic structures.

I suggest that you try to convince the property’s owners to consider the value of saving the lobby in its original location, and point out why that is important to the community and could make a “goodâ€￾ business attraction for them. I also suggest that you contact Ms. Courtney Mooney, the Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Las Vegas (702-229-6011). A goal of historic preservation other than in “situâ€￾ may be discussed, as you proposed, with the City of Las Vegas for their centennial program in 2005.

Please contact me if you have questions regarding my response, or the Clark County Museum.

Sincerely,
Mark Ryzdynski
Museum Administrator
Clark County Museum
702-455-7955
ryz@co.clark.nv.us

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:59 pm

More Responses:

Dear Ms. Stratton,

Hello, I am Cheri Perlman, Assistant to Commissioner Chip Maxfield. I found your email very interesting, although, I'm not quite sure where the County would fit into this at this point. I am forwarding your email to Pat Marchese, the Director of Parks and Community Services, to get her input on this idea.

Thank you.

Cheri Perlman
Assistant to Commissioner Maxfield
455-3500

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:00 pm

More:

Ms. Stratton,

Our office has actually been contacted on this issue several times over the past few weeks. We asked Steven Van Gorp in the City of Las Vegas Office of Business Development to look into the matter as he had extensive historic preservation experience and a great familiarity with development outside of the city of Las Vegas, around the valley. So I've attached his initial reply on this topic for your reference. Beyond that this site is out of the City of Las Vegas city limits and thus completely beyond our jurisdiction. You might want to contact the Clark County Commission office at 455-3500 as this site is in unincorporated Clark County.

Thank you,

Larry Harala
Ward 2 City Council Liaison
229-6405


-----Original Message-----
From: Steven Van Gorp

Subject: RE: Citizen Comments/Internet Submission

Thank you for your e-note to Councilwoman Lynette Boggs-McDonald. I have been asked by her office and the City Manager's Office to respond to your inquiry--My name is Steve van Gorp and I am the redevelopment officer for the City and I have a background in architecture, urban design, and city planning. I would have called you, but we did not get your phone number.

We appreciate your willingness to provide feedback and comment to the City of Las Vegas. And I must say that the City, in principle, agrees with you regarding historic preservation and holding onto important civic and architecturally significant structures. The City has preserved several key structures in the downtown core districts including the Fifth Street Elementary School and the Old Post Office / Federal Building. We are currently working to move one of the few remaining "Railroad Cottages", dating from around 1911, that currently stands in the path of oncoming development. It will be moved to the Las Vegas Valley Springs Preserve at Valley View and Alta.

The La Concha Motel is not within the City of Las Vegas, but is rather in the Paradise Township of Clark County. In fact, the entire Las Vegas Strip is in the County, not the City of Las Vegas proper. We have no jurisdiction over demolition permits in Clark County. The building has never been landmarked. The motel behind the shell-shaped lobby has already been demolished, and the entire site will be redeveloped with a new, taller and more dense urban non-gaming hotel from what press I have seen.

In many ways, the history of Las Vegas is about constant change and continual reinvention of its places, people and buildings. This is the place that more people move to every year to start over and begin new lives. This is the places that celebrates its past by imploding its last generation hotels and replacing them with fantastic next generation fantasies. I share your concern for and mourning for the past, and accept your challenge to preserve what we can, but most importantly I celebrate the city of the future that we can only imagine.

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:01 pm

Here is the response from Preserve Nevada

Dear Ms. Stratton,

Welcome! So nice to be in touch with a fellow preservationist. As you note, our community has been slow to recognize the importance of maintaining our heritage--but things are changing. If you have not already done so, I would suggest that you first contact the Preservation Association of Clark County www.pacc.info . I would be happy to send you a copy of their quarterly newsletter if you will provide me with your address. Additionally, here is a link to the Historic Preservation Commission for Las Vegas http://www.ci.las-vegas.nv.us/1353_1368.htm .
Please do not hesitate to email, call, or write if I can be of help.

Mary D. Wammack
Deputy Director, Preserve Nevada
UNLV Department of History
Box 455020
Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5020
(702) 895-2908
also: wammack@unlv.edu
Last edited by Futura Girl on Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Futura Girl » Wed Apr 21, 2004 10:03 pm

NOW WHAT DO WE DO Adriene?????
help!!!

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Postby nichols » Thu Apr 22, 2004 11:57 am

I don't want to assume that Dream car rental removed the resin sculpture inside

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I guess we shoulda known that in Nv. (as an aside slightly..

Postby modfan » Thu Apr 22, 2004 11:58 am

off topic)
Ya got townships-and that most of the 'strip' is not even in the city of Las Vegas-that famous sign 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' isn't even in Las Vegas. And that Carson City is like San Francisco, the whole city is the county!
And in Georgia the city of Atlanta itself goes across county lines.

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Postby Futura Girl » Thu Apr 22, 2004 1:42 pm

the resin art is still there.
according to the guys there - they think the building won't be torn down, but we all have seen the plans - and there's no mention of the original lobby. plus it was on the news monday night and tuesday - that construction will begin soon.

The El Morocco Hotel is CLOSED and gated off. The beauty shop moved out - no more orange and pink hair salon.
The Korean BBQ while still open for now - ripped out the pink vinyl round room.

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Postby Jack Wright » Fri Apr 23, 2004 10:04 am

Its what ive been saying for years Vegas is gonna be sorry someday when all there history is gone. The only major city in the US that will have no History other than a photo album so sad :(

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Postby Adriene » Mon Apr 26, 2004 4:28 pm

Okay, here's where we are on this. The Doumani family is now working with Preserve Nevada and has agreed to donate the building and allow it to be moved PROVIDED that all the other many many pieces fall into place. Currently, there doesn't appear to be any active opposition to the move. The main hurdle is obtaining the funding from the City in time to hire the appropriate consultants to do a feasibility study on the project. La Concha apparently sustained some serious damage on the back side from the demolition.

Please continue sending your letters of support directly to Andy Kirk at Preserve Nevada. The clock is ticking and we have to make a strong case for funding the move (and one of the fears is that the Centennial Board may not feel the move is really do-able).

Mr. Andy Kirk
Assistant Professor
Public History Program Director
Preserve Nevada Director
UNLV Department of History Box 455020
4505 Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154-5020
Mail or Fax to (702) 895-1784

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Postby Futura Girl » Mon Apr 26, 2004 11:17 pm

Fred Doumani was interviewed on the news last week, but there was no mention of saving the lobby - just that the Peppermill would stay around for a while. BTW Silver City next door is also dust.

The news also interviewed the architect for the new project Paul Steelman.

great news adrienne - i gave some flyers to folks in vegas and can do more flyering when i head back up there on the 15th... do we want to coordinate any more efforts?

There was a nice article in the Las Vegas Sun last week about living the Modern Life in Vegas for which I was quoted and they used a couple of shots from our house... In the meantime I have made friends with the author and would like to propose a story to him. Is the time right for that yet?

here's the article
http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stori ... 18156.html

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Postby lasvegaslynn » Wed Apr 28, 2004 10:08 am

The Doumani family has been in Las Vegas for a long time and been very successful there. I know that they are working with Sandra Harris to have the La Concha sign moved to the Neon Sign graveyard (where it will be reunited with its Motel half).

You might want to contact a UNLV history student- Joe Thompson. From what I have been told, he was instrumental in getting five of the old railroad cottages downtown saved. One of the cottages is being moved to the Clark County Heritage Museum out on Boulder Highway and the remaining will be moved to the Springs Preserve.

Joe managed to get the property owner and the city to work together to achieve this. The Centennial Committee was also involved. However, the Centennial Comm. is working with limited funds at the moment (if anyone would like further info on that and why please email me privately) so they may not be wanting to pay for the feasability plan. But Joe may have insight as to who to work with and if it is possible for a collaboration of funds from the Committee, the City and property owner is possible.

Andy Kirk should know how to get in touch with Joe. Joe is a young man who cares passionately about early Las Vegas and might be willing to share his thoughts and contacts.

We are moving this weekend to Sherman Oaks so I will be internet-less from Friday to Monday but will check back here and post more info or ideas as I can over the next 48 hours.


***
Lynn in Sherman Oaks

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Another Fred caffine powered idea...

Postby freddiefreelance » Fri Apr 30, 2004 7:44 am

Has anyone thought of a Vegas retro-kitch hodge-podge casino/hotel? By "hodge-podge" I mean something like what "New York-New York" is to the actual New York, or "Paris" is to Paris: a collection of old Vegas Kitch culture pieces, downtown neon signs & Rat Pack-abelia combined into a new whole. The La Concha entry way, the Glass Pool's pool, a table reserved for Frank, Dino, Sammy, et al, classic neon pieces from the Neon Graveyard outside & in, pieces of the original Downtown & Strip hotels, giant Rat Pack caricatures, & more, more, more!
Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Freelance, Ph.D., D.F.S.

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Postby Futura Girl » Fri Apr 30, 2004 8:00 am

yes, i've been dying to see this happen. i would like to see it built on the old el Rancho property which has been vacant for YEARS...

but haven't heard of that 'theme' being proposed yet...

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And call it

Postby modfan » Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:43 am

The Vegas Kitcsh Casino Resort....

They need something now that they have to compete with the California Tribal Casinos-hey they could get the pieces and put one up somewhere around P. S.

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Update on the La Concha

Postby lasvegaslynn » Mon May 10, 2004 6:20 pm


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KLAS newscast misleading

Postby lasvegaslynn » Tue May 11, 2004 12:15 pm


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Postby Adriene » Wed May 12, 2004 12:24 am


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Postby nichols » Thu May 13, 2004 11:41 am

I understand this 10 year program was not started until 1995.

Perhaps LA CONCHA could be funded through this?

Saturday, February 06, 1999
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Cultural, historical projects get funds


$2.5 million in grants doled out

By Sean Whaley
Donrey Capital Bureau

      CARSON CITY -- Twenty-four historical and cultural preservation projects located throughout Nevada have been awarded $2.5 million in state grants, including $157,928 to the Boulder Dam Hotel history museum and $90,000 to the Friends of the Huntridge Theater.
      The Junior League of Las Vegas was awarded $176,720 to purchase a piece of property in Las Vegas for a new home for the Whitehead House, a historic home that had been moved to make way for development.
      The grants were awarded by the Commission for Cultural Affairs, a six-member panel charged with allocating a pool of funds available each year for historic preservation. The 10-year grant program was authorized by the 1991 Legislature.
      A total of 31 projects, seeking collectively $7.2 million in funding, were reviewed by the panel. Seven projects, including a request for $200,000 from the city of North Las Vegas for the Kiel Ranch, were given no money.
      Ron James, state historic preservation officer, said those requests that were not funded this year are welcome to apply again. As work on some projects are finished up, money becomes available for others, he said.
      None of the 24 projects that were funded received the full amounts they were seeking.
      James said the grant to the Huntridge may be the last funding the theater needs from the program.
      The money will be made available to the various groups after a bond sale is approved by the Board of Examiners, which will take several weeks.
      Six of the seven Clark County projects submitted for consideration by the panel were funded for a total of $537,248, or about 21 percent of the $2.5 million in available money.
      The other Clark County projects receiving funding were the Logandale School, $51,400; the Desert Valley Museum in Mesquite, $17,200; and the Clark County Heritage Museum, $44,000. Two Virginia City projects received some of the largest grants: $200,000 for the Piper Opera House and $264,000 for the Fourth Ward School, which is now a museum.
      The biggest grant, $270,000, went to the Riverside, a former hotel-casino in downtown Reno on the Truckee River that preservationists are trying to save.
      "Without that funding to the Riverside, we would have lost that building," James said.
      James said the selection process is difficult but is done publicly.
      The projects were reviewed and the grants awarded after an all-day public meeting Thursday in the capital.
      Some of the other grants approved by the panel include:
      --$7,400 to Esmeralda County for the Goldfield courthouse and firehouse;
      --$46,000 to the Lincoln County School District for the Frank Wilcox Auditorium;
      --$89,500 to Lincoln County for the Thompson Opera House;
      --$64,504 to Mineral County for the former Sixth Street school;
      --$81,000 to Tonopah for the Tonopah Mining Park; and
      --$10,600 to the White Pine Public Museum's McGill Drugstore.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Jun 01, 2004 2:52 pm

I just went to Vegas and checked out the remains of the La Concha lobby. The interior seems to be intact and the concrete shell looks good. HOWEVER, the owners have added a temporary tent to the rear of the building where they will soon tout their latest plans for development. This tent is placed flush against the La Concha lobby which required that the owners knock out a few large chunks in the rear of the sweeping shell.

The bad side of this addition is that there are now two huge chunks missing from the rear of the enormous La Concha roof. The good side of this is that we now know that the roof is heavily reinforced with band after band of steel.

I beleive this was an issue that played into whether or not the structure could be moved to a new location and saved. Now we know, it is reinforced. Perhaps that fact will help in its preservation.

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Postby Adriene » Mon Jul 26, 2004 8:37 am

Update: The neon museum is excited about the idea of using La Concha's lobby building as a gateway. Financing and feasibility remain open issues. Hopefully, the Centennial Committee will vote to adopt the project. Now that the construction schedule's been pushed back, February 2005 is the new deadline to move La Concha off the property. If anyone hears differently, please contact Andy Kirk at Preserve Nevada, akirk@ccmail.nevada.edu ! ! !

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The La Concha's Tile Mosiac is MIA

Postby lasvegaslynn » Fri Jul 30, 2004 4:41 pm

A friend of mine just told me that the tile mosiac that Chris mentioned upstream and that was still there at the end of April is now MIA and no longer hanging in what remains of the La Concha.

Anyone have any idea where it went???


:cry:

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Aug 03, 2004 11:32 am

I was worried about that piece too. I have no idea and have heard no rumors. I'd keep my eyes on the antique and thrift stores in the area. It would fetch a good price... sigh.

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Postby mtwall » Sun Aug 08, 2004 9:05 am

M-M, Adriene, LV Lynn:

Since you have all the info, background, contacts, etc., would you consider contacting L.A. Times (I'm thinking maybe the LA Times Sunday Magazine editors) for a story?

I would guess that not many people in LA are aware of the situation and developments and should be. Anyway, here's a link to the editorial staff at LA. Times:

http://www.latimes.com/services/site/la ... .htmlstory

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Update on the La Concha

Postby lasvegaslynn » Sun Aug 29, 2004 11:56 am

Wanted to let all the La Concha lovers know of the following.

In today's Las Vegas Sun there is an article entitled "Onward and Upward"

http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stori ... 17383.html

about the highrise condo/timeshare boom in Las Vegas.

Buried about halfway down the article is a quote from Lorenzo Doumani (whose family owns the La Concha property) that all existing buildings on the property will be destroyed in the next two weeks.

The article does not say and I am taking it on faith that the remaining La Concha building will be kept and used as the sales office for the coming high-rise that will go up on the property.

If anyone has connections and can confirm that the La Concha does not have an unpublicized (usually the way developers get around preservationists at least in Las Vegas) date with the wrecking ball please
let us know!!!! :|

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Postby Lynxwiler » Sun Aug 29, 2004 2:12 pm

I've heard no new news on the La Concha. But this bit of info on clearing everything off of the site doesn frighten me.

I may have asked this before, but is the Peppermill Restaurant part of this property or not? It's right in the middle of two vacant lots and seems prime for demo. What's its status?

I LOVE Peppermill!

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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Sep 20, 2004 5:02 pm

The lobby structure is still standing as of Labor Day. The interior is blank and it appears the inside and outside are receiving a new, white paint job. The tent in back was not open to the public but it will soon house the preview center for the highrises to come.

The neon signage for the La Concha Motel has been removed. I hope it made it to the Las Vegas Neon Museum but I've seen no confirmation.

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Postby nichols » Thu Sep 08, 2005 11:23 am

NEVADA FOCUS: Groups determined to save the heart of Las Vegas motel


By Kristen Peterson


ASSOCIATED PRESS



12:19 a.m. September 7, 2005



LAS VEGAS – We love our buildings. Over time they become a part of us. They define our cities, personalize our communities, connect us to the past and texturize our neighborhoods and skylines.

So as the lobby of the former La Concha motel and its swooping futuristic architecture sits empty on the Las Vegas Strip, architects, historians and preservation groups watch with painful unease as efforts to raise lifesaving funds result in little success.

"I think there is a significant chance that we're going to lose it," said Bob Stoldal, vice president of news operations at KLAS-TV in Las Vegas and a local history buff. "Until I see it moved to a new place, I'm going to be nervous."

The La Concha lobby has a home waiting for it as the visitor center and gift shop of the Neon Museum, which is planning to break ground on a new facility next year that will feature many of Las Vegas' famous signs.

The Friedmutter Group Architecture & Design Studios has donated its services to the Neon Museum and has begun working with a structural engineer and Flagship Construction on the possible move.

But before La Concha can be cut into pieces to fit under the U.S. Highway 95 overpass, nearly $600,000 must be raised to pay for relocation.

Getting money to fund the project has been more difficult than organizers anticipated even though the building, designed by the late Paul Revere Williams, has a grip on the hearts of many.

"I'm really surprised," said Barbara Molasky, president of the nonprofit Neon Museum, where the La Concha lobby will serve as a reception area. "I hate to say that, but I am."

La Concha's unusual spider-web frame creates swooping overhangs that shade the glass windows enveloping the space. Designed by the legendary Los Angeles architect who gained international success, the building has many admirers.

Some tip their hats to its architecture, a representation of mid-century modern roadside "Googie" architecture with futuristic elements in its design, much of which was razed in the 1960s. Others are enamored by the architect's creativity and his story of success during a time when there were few flourishing black architects.

Others simply love the building as an old Las Vegas landmark, one of several disappearing relics from the city's past.

"It's so exuberant, daring, progressive, and it represents the modernism of the city at the time," said Alan Hess, architectural critic of the San Jose Mercury News and author of "Viva Las Vegas: After-Hours Architecture." "Old buildings add to the richness of cities and city life. Las Vegas has precious little of that, especially along the Strip."

Fred Doumani, owner of La Concha and vice president of a hotel-condo development planned for the site, does not want to see the lobby crumble. His family has owned the property since 1959 and worked with Williams on the design.

He has donated the lobby and extended the moving deadline because of recent plans to expand the pending project. Originally, Doumani had wanted to use the lobby in the new development, but couldn't find a place for it.

"We're going to do whatever we can to make sure it's preservable," Doumani said. "There are certain things that you don't want to see go down."

When word got out of La Concha's possible demise, Andy Kirk at Preserve Nevada was flooded with phone calls from local residents and interested out-of-state parties, including the Los Angeles Conservancy.

Preserve Nevada, which operates out of UNLV and has a statewide board that includes former Gov. Richard Bryan as chairman, was able to secure funds from the National Trust for an engineering survey.

Originally, costs for moving the structure were thought to be $100,000. That has more than quadrupled since learning the lobby would not fit under U.S. Highway 95.

"Originally we thought we could pick it up and move it," said Suzanne Marie Couture, an architect and designer with the Friedmutter Group. "But that's completely impossible."

Earlier talks included discussions about flying the building to its new site, or shipping it by rail.

Kirk said that in the six years he's been in Las Vegas, he's never seen a bigger outcry to save a building. Besides the Neon Museum and Preserve Nevada, organizations trying to help are the city's Historic Preservation Commission, the Preservation Association of Clark County and the State Historic Preservation Office.

David Millman, historian and curator of collections at the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society, said anything Paul Revere Williams designed should be valued.

"We don't have a lot of older buildings done by nationally recognized architects so that in itself is worth saving," Millman said.

By the time Williams had been hired to design the La Concha, he had already established a name for himself as an architect, designing homes for Hollywood celebrities. His work also includes the Beverly Hills Hotel and the United Nations building in Paris.

Kirk said he hopes the outcry to save La Concha represents a change in public apathy for older buildings, though it comes a little too late as much of Las Vegas' past has already disappeared.

"The La Concha represents an era on the Las Vegas Strip where there is virtually nothing left of its kind," Kirk said. "Nobody has engineered so much effort on one single structure as the Neon Museum has. When they stepped up to the plate, it looked like a long shot. Now it doesn't look like such a long shot."


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