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UPDATE: 9/11 tribute to take place on 3rd Street in downtown Las Vegas after dispute

Hotel, saloon, 9/11 tribute organizers battle over street
Posted at 11:47 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-02 02:48:35-04

UPDATE AUG. 1: Hogs and Heifers Saloon says the dispute over 3rd Street in downtown Las Vegas is over and the Downtown Grand hotel-casino has offered a key section of the street for use in the annual Flag Ladder Arch Event commemorating the victims and heroes of 9/11.

There is a battle brewing over the use of 3rd Street in downtown Las Vegas, and 9/11 tribute organizers fear they may have to cancel their event if they don't get an answer soon.

Hogs and Heifer's owner Michelle Dell says in just days, it won't be just another day for her.

"The building came down within moments of them going in," said Dell about her friend, Port Authority Police Officer J. D. Levi.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," said Dell.

Levi was her good friend and first customer at her original Hogs Heifers in the New York stock yards.

The pain of losing him nearly 18 years ago is still top of mind.

"This particular wall, I often walk by it and plant a kiss on JD," said Dell looking at a wall with pictures, badges, hats and other items from first responders from around the country.

"It keeps me grounded, in a sense," as her voice quivered.

In the dark days following the attacks, Dell says her New York saloon was a place to gather, to grieve and for her fellow New Yorkers to lean on each other.

"For me, this is just very personal, as a New Yorker it's personal," said Dell.

In the years since, Dell relocated her bar into the heart of downtown Las Vegas.

But this year, for the 18th anniversary of the attacks, the feeling is different.

The parade and tribute which usually leads right to Hogs and Heifers may not happen.

"It's for two hours for an event that helps us never forget the 343 firefighters that died in 9/11," said Mike Tomko, the tribute organizer.

There is construction at the Downtown Grand and the hotel owns and controls 3rd Street, a public street turned private road by the City of Las Vegas several years ago.

The property is currently using the road for valet and entrance.

According to communication from the City of Las Vegas, it appears the Downtown Grand ownership does not plan to budge on closing the street for the annual parade.

"They are stonewalling completely and I think it definitely factors into my dispute because it is an event that, in a sense, Hogs and Heifers has hosted for the last eight years," said Dell.

Dell says the parade problem is compounding the rift that is growing between her and her landlord, Downtown Grand.

Dell and the current ownership, the CIM Group, are battling over the remaining 5 years of her lease term.

Dell filed a lawsuit to stay put for the remainder of the lease.

"The dispute will be rectified because I'm a fighter and I'm not going anywhere," said Dell.

Tomko says relocating the parade and venue may not be logistically possible, given the short notice.

The City of Las Vegas says they have not received an application for a special event permit from organizers yet.

John Culetsu, Vice President and Managing Director of the Downtown Grand, released the following statement:

"Downtown Grand has always supported our first responders and the annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony. The ceremony has historically required the closure of the 3rd Street in its entirety on Downtown Grand's property. This year, due to construction of a new tower at Downtown Grand, the main entrance and valet to Downtown Grand has been temporarily relocated to 3rd Street to accommodate ongoing operations and pedestrian safety. As a result, we are unable to accommodate the entire closure of 3rd Street. We are making an alternate suggestion to the organizer, and have also requested the City of Las Vegas to assist in identifying alternate locations suitable for the ceremony that works for everyone."