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Vegas Gambles on Slot-Machine-Free Mega-Complex

April 28, 2002|Tom Gorman; Compiled by Jane Engle

LAS VEGAS — Neonopolis, a three-story, $100-million entertainment, dining and retail complex, is scheduled to open Thursday on downtown's Fremont Street, sans slot machines but chock-full of other attractions targeting tourists and local residents.

The long-delayed project, funded in part with $40 million from the city, will feature a 14-screen movie theater, a 100-foot-tall display of historic and modern neon signs, an art gallery and a host of stores and fast-food outlets.

At opening, the 240,000-square-foot complex will be about 70% occupied. By Labor Day, the second largest tenant, Jillian's, featuring a restaurant, bowling lanes, billiards and a dance club, is set to open.

"It's going to be a really cool place, easily accessed, with lots of parking, that will give visitors an added reason to stay downtown after they've seen the lights of Fremont Street," said Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Neonopolis is at Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont, where a pedestrian mall covered by a sound-and-light canopy produces computer-driven graphics known as the Fremont Street Experience.

Its opening was delayed nearly two years when the initial anchor, Mann Theatres, withdrew after its parent company, WestStar Cinemas Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999. The city and developer World Entertainment Centers plugged the vacancy with a new anchor tenant, Crown 14 Theaters.

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