Las Vegas--The battle is over between a Dayton bar owner and the company controlling a large entertainment complex.
Don Troxel, who owns Celebrity�s, sued the company behind Neonopolis in Las Vegas after they inexplicably turned down his lease application in November 2003.
Troxel had already put $200,000 into obtaining permits and starting work on a 10,000-square-foot Celebrity Las Vegas when World Entertainment Centers, a division of Prudential Real Estate Investors that operates Neonopolis, switched direction and put the kibosh on his plans.
Backed up by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Troxel and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada sued World, arguing that the company turned him away because he wanted to open an establishment in the $100 million mall that would cater to a gay clientele.
While World denied accusations of homophobia, they never provided a reason for the rejection.
A non-disclosure clause in the settlement bars Troxel from disclosing many of its details, including the exact amount, but he said that his initial investment has been completely recouped.
He is also going on with plans for a May opening of the Las Vegas club, which will be in another downtown district called �the Block.�
�It was a lot of problems that I can let go of now,� Troxel said, �since I need to put all my energies into the Block.�
�I could have gone on with it for years, but everyone was getting money but me,� he noted, explaining his willingness to settle.
He does, however, feel vindicated.
�I think the settlement itself says a lot about who has problems,� Troxel said.
Neonopolis, which received $32 million from the city, opened in May 2002. Since then, it has had trouble with low occupancy, and after the trouble with Troxel, Prudential brought in third-party management. The company is also trying to sell the mall.
Dayton club will remain home base
Troxel pointed out that, after the story first broke, patrons of the Dayton club came to him, concerned that he was closing the original Celebrity. He insists that is not the case, and that the home base will be around for years.
As for the Las Vegas bar, he�s planning on giving it five years to establish itself.
�Five years ago, I was really anxious to do it,� he said of the venture, noting that were he to do it again today, he would probably give it a miss. He noted that the costs of permits and other expenses was around three times as much as it is in Dayton.
He blames the expense on the large casinos, who have deep pockets and can afford an almost $2,000 permit for installing a toilet.
Allen Lichtenstein, the local general counsel for ACLU of Nevada, noted that the case boiled down to Neonopolis preferring empty space to a gay business.
�It�s not as though Neonopolis has lines outside with people who want to rent the place,� he told the Rolling Good Times.
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