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State sues Huntridge owner for return of grant money

Reported by: Kelsey Thomas
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Updated: 3/07 10:59 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- A historic Las Vegas landmark is now at the center of a lawsuit. Months after a very public painting project and a promise that it would be re-imagined as part of the downtown art scene, the state is suing the owner of the old Huntridge Theater.

Last fall, the community rallied in a big way to breathe life back into the old Huntridge Theater. Fremont east studios released a time-lapse video of 500 volunteers coming together for a painting party to spruce up the exterior of the historic building. But the newly-renovated theater is now at the center of a new lawsuit.

Shane Chesney, Nevada's senior deputy attorney general, said the building's previous owner signed a contract for $1.3 million in grant money from the Nevada Commission of Cultural Affairs in the 1990s. But the contract came with requirements. Among them, the owner had to preserve the building, ask for permission to make changes, and open it to the public at least once a month.

“On all of those counts, the current owner, who purchased the building in 2002, has failed to do that,” Chesney said.

The state is suing Eli Mizrachi and asking for its money back.

“You know, it's taxpayer money, and we have an obligation to recover it,” said Chesney.

The once-grand movie house opened in the 1940s. It later became a venue for live bands. In September, Martin Corona, who operates the hi-rollers barber shop nearby, told us he was looking forward to the day the doors reopened.

"I know if they re-open it, it’s going to be a really rad building," Corona said.

Huntridge Revival, the group behind the renovations, said the lawsuit does not affect its plans for the landmark.

“This has zero implications on our plans to acquire, renovate and reopen the Huntridge Theatre,” the group said in a statement

The current owner, Eli Mizrachi said he didn’t know about the lawsuit, and had no comment.
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