There’s a lot going on at downtown’s 18 Fremont block, and we’ve got all the latest scoop you won’t find anywhere else.
The 18 Fremont block is home to the closed Las Vegas Club, Mermaids casino and Glitter Gulch. The entire block is being demolished to build a new casino-resort.
First up, the iconic Vegas Vickie sign was removed from the infamous Glitter Gulch strip club facade.
Vegas Vickie was installed in 1980, the brainchild of Las Vegas character Bob Stupak. She was the counterpart to another great neon sign, Vegas Vic. The duo were symbolically “married” in a ceremony in 1994 to mark the construction of the Fremont Street Experience.
While Vickie’s name has been spelled in a variety of ways over the years (Vicky, Vicki), Vickie is, indeed, the proper spelling.
It’s been widely misreported Vegas Vickie was originally called Sassy Sally. First, the Sassy Sally’s casino was half-a-block away (where Mermaids now sits) from Vickie’s perch. Second, Vickie was installed a year before the Sundance West casino became Sassy Sally’s.
Vegas Vickie’s suffered a good deal of damage over the years, so it looked like she might be demolished with the surrounding buildings. The new owners of the sign, Derek and Greg Stevens, decided to invest in safely removing her, anyway.
Removal of Vegas Vickie alone is said to have cost in the range of $11,000.
The plan is to keep Vegas Vickie in storage so she can be restored and mounted again, all due respect.
We’ve heard estimates for Vegas Vickie’s restoration are around $125,000.
One of the biggest mysteries has been where Vegas Vickie will ultimately end up.
Early in the design process of the 18 Fremont project, it was thought Vegas Vickie might be integrated into the resort. Her imposing size, 25 feet tall, made that impractical.
One of the options considered was the site of a “Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas” sign that was destroyed by a reckless driver. That location, at South Fourth Street and Las Vegas Boulevard North, is a fairly crappy one and would make for a poor, and potentially dangerous, photo op.
Here’s a look at Vegas Vickie as she rides off into the sunset. For now, anyway.
We’ve got exclusive renderings of where Vegas Vickie is most likely to end up, on a landing platform for the SlotZilla zipline, just a few feet from the new resort at 18 Fremont.
In another rendering, we can see how Vegas Vickie will look if she’s positioned to jut out over Main Street.
There’s no timeline for when Vegas Vickie might be back, but casino executives are working with the City of Las Vegas and Bob Stupak’s son, Nevada Stupak, to bring her back to Fremont.
As for the other classic signs on the site, like the Golden Goose and Glitter Gulch signs, their fate will lie in the hands of the demolition company. They will ultimately decide if the signs can be salvaged, and can give them away or sell them at their discretion.
It’s believed the facades of these buildings will stay up throughout the demolition process. They’ll keep the street from looking like a construction site, as well as helping to block dust from the demolition.
See the photo gallery at the bottom of this story for more photos of Vegas Vickie’s removal.
While Vegas Vickie has grabbed much of the spotlight at 18 Fremont lately, there’s a lot more going on.
While the Las Vegas Club and Mermaids casinos closed back in June 2016, a quirky gaming license regulation resulted in them opening up again recently. For eight hours each.
That’s right, both Las Vegas Club and Mermaids opened for a few hours on June 27 and June 28, 2017.
To satisfy the gaming regulation, and maintain the gaming licenses for the sites, the casino hired a third party vendor, United Coin Machine, to set up 16 slot machines inside the physical footprint of each casino.
It’s hugely expensive for a casino to go through this silly exercise (think five times more than it took to remove Vegas Vickie), but rules is rules.
Ironically, despite the cost, the owners of the casino don’t get to keep the revenue generated by the “pop-up” casinos. It doesn’t amount to much, but still.
We had to try our luck at each of the pop-up casinos, of course, and are pleased to report we bucked the odds and hit four-of-a-kind at the Las Vegas Club.
In the words of our attendant, “You’re the last person to ever win money at the Las Vegas Club.” Immortality ensured. (Although, it was arguably already ensured when we had the very last deep fried Oreos ever served at Mermaids.)
If you’re a Las Vegas casino nerd, you’ll be interested to know the temporary casinos don’t use a TITO (ticket in, ticket out) system, but rather accept cash and pay jackpots in cash.
This practice of temporary casinos is a time-honored, masturbatory ritual in Las Vegas. It’s sort of like smog checks. Everyone knows it’s a racket, but nobody seems to know how to make it stop.
Up next at 18 Fremont: Demolition.
We recently laid out the way the demolition will happen, in phases, with the entire block eventually being leveled, including the Las Vegas Club’s two hotel towers.
The first building to be demolished in this phase of the process is the former office of Granite Gaming (see below), the previous owner of Mermaids and Glitter Gulch. That demolition begins July 17, 2017.
Preparation for the demolition has been in the works for months, including a key step recently, as utilities were capped off. You can see traces of that work on the street between Binion’s and the Granite Gaming building.
Demolition of the block actually began back in February 2017, but now the project begins in earnest.
In case you missed it in the photo caption above, each building on the 18 Fremont block will be meticulously taken down, with Mermaids and Glitter Gulch next (late July), then the Las Vegas Club’s casino (early August), the parking garage (late August), then the two hotel towers (starting in early September). It’s expected the demolition will be complete by the end of 2017.
Sorry, no implosions. All the structures will be taken down with demolition equipment, including the largest crane of its kind in the world.
Update (7/17/17): Demolition crews wasted no time in taking down the Granite Gaming building.
Here’s a better view of the demolition on July 17, 2017.
While we’re in the neighborhood, it’s probably a good time to check in on the expansion at Golden Gate, just across Fremont Street.
Golden Gate has announced the expansion to its casino, in the former La Bayou footprint, will debut on August 25, 2017.
We’ve heard some juicy details about the Golden Gate expansion, including the fact the new space will feature a chandelier made up of dozens of video screens.
(Update 7/20/17): Here’s a first look at what the Golden Gate’s new facade will look like, including a peek at the video chandelier.
The first floor of the expanded space will add another 100 slots to the casino. Golden Gate currently has 361 slots. The second floor of the expansion will be used for storage and distribution of liquor to the casino, expected to save the casino about $100,000 a year.
There’s a metric hell-ton going on downtown, and the demolition and construction of the new resort at 18 Fremont will be fun to watch.
And watch we will.
Check this blog often for all the latest news. It’s not like you’re all that into your job, anyway.
Vegas Vickie Relocated, More at 18 Fremont