The north end of the Strip has struggled in recent years with half-finished projects, deteriorating buildings and vacant lots. But developer Ric Truesdell sees big opportunities there.
"There hasn't been a new building in this block in a decade," Truesdell said Tuesday from the intersection of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. "This is the future development opportunity."
Truesdell, a 30-year real estate broker and city planning commissioner, hopes to reinvigorate the area. He and two partners are opening a machine gun shop in the parking lot of a rundown motel.
"Shooting has become a popular attraction in Las Vegas," said Justin Michaels, director of retail strategies for the gun club. "You can see that by the lines at the other places, where you have to wait two hours sometimes. We think we can design an experience to cater to a certain clientele."
The shooting range will combine an industrial exterior with a stylish interior. A tower made from a cargo container will form the club's entryway while a red crystal chandelier and textured walnut walls will decorate its interior. The shooting range itself will be visible through large windows with bulletproof glass. Other windows will look out onto a refurbished pool.
The developers point to the planned rebranding of the Sahara as the SLS Las Vegas by developer Sam Nazarian and the proposed Lucky Dragon hotel and casino by a group including former Sands executive Bill Weidner as evidence of the area's potential. The Lucky Dragon would be located on Sahara Avenue, two blocks west of the Strip.
"When you see people like Sam Nazarian and Bill Weidner investing in this area, you know this is the place you want to be," Michaels said.
Rob Oseland, president of SLS Las Vegas, said Tuesday the SLS project remains on schedule. The developers are securing the last of the financing, and construction is set to begin later this year.
The developers of the Strip Gun Club hope to draw clients from the SLS as well as the Stratosphere.
Truesdell and his team also own Fun City Motel, which they also plan to renovate with new rooms and shops, Truesdell said. He declined to say how much the projects will cost but said his team is making "a major investment" in the area.
"We look at this as the gateway to Las Vegas, between the Strip and downtown," Truesdell said. "This is an important block to the future of Las Vegas. This is like your front door. If you don't have an attractive front door, people aren't going to want to come inside."