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White Cross building set for $20M expansion, renovation

Updated June 2, 2021 - 4:41 pm

The former home of a popular Las Vegas diner and longtime drugstore is set to start getting overhauled in the coming months.

Developer Jonathan Kermani told the Review-Journal recently that he expects to start construction in September on a project to renovate, partially demolish and expand the vacant former Vickie’s Diner and White Cross Market building between the Strip and downtown.

Kermani said that the 1950s-era structure, 1700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, at Oakey Boulevard, spans 25,000 square feet, and that he will keep around 17,000 square feet.

When the roughly $20 million project is done, he said, the building will measure 50,000 square feet.

He aims to fill it with bars, restaurants, and possibly some office tenants, and to finish the project by September 2022.

His undertaking would redevelop a decades-old property that he acquired less than a year ago and bring, he hopes, a wave of new businesses to the area. He also owns real estate in the nearby Arts District, which, he noted, has seen a surge of activity lately with new eateries and the like.

Moreover, Kermani pointed out that Las Vegas Boulevard is being overhauled along the former diner building.

The city announced a $125 million public works project in April 2020 that includes replacing underground utilities, traffic signals and sidewalks, and adding trees, bus-stop access and pedestrian improvements to Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara and Stewart avenues and to a few other nearby streets.

“It’s going to be a revitalized area,” Kermani said.

His building supposedly drew some very Vegas celebrities over the decades. According to reports, its customers included the Rat Pack, Liberace and Elvis Presley.

White Cross Drugs opened there in 1955 during Las Vegas’ Mafia days and closed in 2012. White Cross Market debuted in the building in 2013, offering craft beer and giving downtown-area residents a rare neighborhood grocery store with fresh produce.

But sales were low, the Review-Journal reported, and the market closed a few years after it opened.

The building also featured a series of popular eateries, including, most recently, Vickie’s Diner, which served chicken-fried steak, burgers, and liver and onions.

Vickie’s closed last August, a month before Kermani took ownership of the building.

The Las Vegas Planning Commission approved project plans for the site May 11.

Developer Sam Cherry, a member of the commission, told the Review-Journal on Tuesday that the area between the Strip and downtown — two major employment centers — has long been “rundown” and neglected.

But he figures that Kermani’s project and the Arts District will feed off each other and that residents near the building “have to be excited” for the new commerce.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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