Local News


Downtown business owner fears gentrification as Las Vegas Arts District popularity grows

Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-26 15:42:14-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — "Want to hold a human skull?"

There are not many places in Las Vegas that will ask you that, let alone let you touch one.

"It's very rare to know who owned the specimens. This skull and bones belonged to a doctor out of Newark. Dates back to the 1940s," says Vanessa VanAlstyne the owner of Las Vegas Oddities.

RELATED: Downtown mural showing Lady Liberty handcuffed by ICE sparks conversations about immigration

It's known for being the weirdest little shop in the valley -- and in the Arts District. The shop is located on Main Street near Colorado Avenue.

"I tried to make a safe place for weirdos and witches. I wanted a place that brought in eclectic outsider and just weirdo artist," VanAlstyne says.

But the weirdness is being cut short. VanAlstyne tells 13 Action News that her lease contract is not being renewed.

"I've put a lot of love and money into this space. To only be open two years and to already relocate, it's a blow most small businesses can't take," VanAlstyne says.

She also knows the Arts District is a hot spot but thinks parts of it are being gentrified.

RELATED: Pin-up star, Playboy Playmate Claire Sinclair debuts boutique hotel in downtown Las Vegas

"I'm really just seeing the people that made this a fun cooky district forced to migrate while more pseudo chains come in," VanAlstyne says.

She fears, one day, the area will lose local artists who are inspired to make colorful murals or create hand-made art or jewelry.

"The crucial element is your local talent and developing your local talent," VanAlstyne says.

Paco Alvarez is a cultural arts maven. He says over the years the Arts District has prided itself on providing excitement and inspiration.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Paco Alvarez discusses art scene, development in Las Vegas Arts District

"We're authentic. We are the real thing. A multitude of artists have dedicated their lives to downtown," Alvarez says.

He says Las Vegas City Council is "working hard" to keep the area's originality but it's not too easy.

"How do we remind property owners here that a lot of these small businesses cannot afford such a progressive rate of rental increases?"

Until there is an answer, VanAlstyne fears more small businesses could close.

"This is really a blow," VanAlstyne says.

Las Vegas Oddities is located 1228 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV 89104 near Main Street and Colorado Avenue.