‘Harlem Nights’ Casino Proposed For Historic Las Vegas Club Site

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Beverly Hills, California-based spa chain owner and investor Shlomo Meiri has submitted proposals for a 687-foot-tall hotel and casino resort in Las Vegas’ Historic Westside neighborhood.

Called Harlem Nights, the proposed casino’s theme will be a tribute to the historically African American neighborhood and its legendary Town Tavern. That venue first opened on the site in then-segregated Las Vegas in 1960. The name also recalls the 1980s Eddie Murphy movie about the area in New York of the same name.

The potential $700 million project will be reviewed by city planners at a meeting next Tuesday, April 11.

Areas of Growth

“This Harlem Nights project will create a lot of work, and people in the community can live and work in the same place. Las Vegas does not have much of a place to grow as far as hotels and tourists, and I see that in Historic Westside as the next area of growth,” Meiri told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“It is time for the historical Westside to get back to what it used to be,” he added.

At nearly 700 feet tall, Harlem Nights would become the second-highest casino tower on the Vegas Strip.

The Fontainebleau Las Vegas, at 735 feet when completed, should be finished and open by late 2023 – well before any potential work could begin on a new competitor.

Steeped in History

The site for this planned resort complex is a legendary one. The heyday of the Town Tavern was in the ’60s, when jazz stars like Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole used to drop by on occasion. But since then, the site has had a checkered story.

It closed as the Town Tavern in 1970, but opened again in 1981 as The Ultra New Town Tavern – this time with added casino gaming. However, that would only last until 2002, when the last owner died, and the roof subsequently collapsed from neglect. Las Vegas authorities boarded it up and declared it unsafe in 2010.

The building, on West Jackson Avenue at the intersection with F street, has been mostly vacant since then.

Chances and Characters

It did receive a facelift and a new sign in 2016, when then-owner Steve Hayashi submitted plans for a 400-room Tokyo Casino and Resort. But the Nevada Gaming Board shut down his ambitious $2 billion plan that same year.

So what are the chances of Shlomo Meiri and his Harlem Nights casino project getting off the ground?

Well, local sources say that an internal Planning Commission report did not look good for the project.

The new resort would require a massive change in local zoning requirements. For example, the plans currently go a massive 53 stories over the limit of seven currently imposed on buildings in the historic Westside neighborhood.

“Neither growth nor development factors in the surrounding community indicate a need or appropriateness for this rezoning,” said the commission’s initial report.

Meiri was not put off by the long shot of approval. He cited strong local support for redevelopment, and vowed to continue on to try and get the project passed, no matter what.

“The final vote on the project is by the Las Vegas City Council, and we are hopeful they will all see the value of this catalyst project and what it means for the Westside,” he said.

If the new Harlem Nights Casino Resort plans pass, construction is projected to take up to six years.

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