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On the scene: White Cross opening, Huntridge Theater meeting

ON THE SCENE

Las Vegas’ past looked a bit like its future last week. Two events separated by just a couple of miles bracketed downtown Las Vegas with reminders that our past is not just something worthy of the wrecking ball, but might be worth preserving.

The Shoshani family formally opened the White Cross Market on the corner of Las Vegas and Oakey boulevards on Saturday. About 90 people came to the ribbon-cutting for the highly anticipated market, which gives residents of the Huntridge and John S. Park neighborhoods on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard, and from Naked City to the west, a shopping option that’s within walking distance for the first time in years. A gaggle of elected officials — city council members Bob Coffin, Stavros Anthony and Ricki Barlow; Mayor Carolyn Goodman; Congresswoman Dina Titus; and Assemblywoman Heidi Swank — joined some just-plain-folks to open the store on the site of the old White Cross Drugs, which closed a year ago.

Some of those attending the ribbon-cutting arrived on bicycles and were more interested in getting their shopping done than in the formalities at the front door.

“It is emblematic. It’s about energy. It’s about excitement. It’s about reinvestment,” Goodman told the crowd Saturday morning.

Coffin said the reopening of the store was also about memories — former Las Vegas Mayor Ron Lurie* used to pack groceries at the long-closed supermarket next door, Coffin said. The new White Cross “is not a supermarket. This is a family business market.”

“It’s a beautiful market, it’s a beautiful family and what a nice addition to the community,” Titus said.

The market opening came three days after another milestone in the past-as-future for the downtown community. Michael Cornthwaite and Joey Vanas, two-thirds of the trio of investors working to rescue the Huntridge Theater from decay and irrelevance, held a community meeting before about 150 people to announce their success in reaching and surpassing their $150,000 fundraising goal for their effort.

They actually topped $207,000 through their Indiegogo crowd-sourcing effort. More impressive, perhaps, was news that private contractors have pledged $500,000 in in-kind donations to repair the dilapidated property at the corner of Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard. The pair made the announcement at the Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada, itself a new addition to the neighborhood, in a thoroughly refurbished old building on the outskirts of downtown.

“This is a long journey, but we are well on our way,” Cornthwaite said Thursday evening. “I’m just very proud of our community today.”

More than 740 people contributed to the fundraising effort, and Vanas said 20-40 people have been volunteering to keep the rehab effort alive and well. Huntridge Revival still has to raise about $4 million by the end of the year to acquire the property, and the ultimate cost of the project could top $15 million, but the people eagerly buying T-shirts Thursday night appeared confident that the project will succeed.

“We’re exploring every opportunity to reach that goal,” Vanas said.

Vanas and Cornthwaite joined more than a dozen supporters a couple of blocks south at historic Huntridge Tavern, where beer and cocktails competed with conversation focusing on the future of the Huntridge Theater across the street — and a bit on the future of downtown, where the past looks a lot more promising than it did just a few months ago.

* Spelling of "Lurie" corrected.