Big changes could be coming to the old El Portal theatre on Fremont Street. The Las Vegas Planning Commission approved the applicant to turn the historic building into a food court and tavern Tuesday night.
Some people are not happy about this decision because they feel the new design will destroy the charm and character of the building.
The El Portal was built in 1927 and opened in 1928 as a theatre. It was the first building in Las Vegas to have air conditioning. It also was built with hacidenda-style architecture.
“There’s a really great quote I often like to use and it’s, ‘Buildings are like memories that we can touch’,” said Michelle Larime with Nevada Preservation Foundation. “Really when you visit a city, or even live in a city, your built landscape is really how you identify with that environment.”
The building is located on the Fremont Street Experience. It’s currently operating as an Indian Arts & Crafts store near Slotzilla. The new potential owner wants to put a food court and a daiquiri bar on the bottom with a tavern on the top. They want to change the facade and take down the El Portal sign.
“There’s a lot of ways in which the building as it is today still harkens back and still puts you back to that original El Portal theatre that was built in 1927,” said Heidi Swank, also with Nevada Preservation Foundation.
During the presentation to the board, the applicant’s attorney said she they still wanted to try and keep some of the building’s charm and that the current owner would be interested in giving the El Portal sign to the Neon Museum.