La Concha Motel
The La Concha Motel was a motel that opened in 1961 and closed in 2004. It was designed by architect Paul Williams who was one of the first prominent African American architects in the United States and was also the architect who designed the first LAX theme building. It was located at 2955 Las Vegas Blvd South, on the Las Vegas Strip, in Winchester, Nevada, and was considered one of the best-preserved examples of 1950s Googie architecture. It was named after the resort community of La Concha, Spain. La Concha motel was also neighbors of El Morocco Hotel that opened in 1964 and closed 1983.
|La Concha Motel|
The motel lobby building
|Location||Las Vegas, Nevada 89109|
|Address||2955 Las Vegas Blvd South|
|Design and construction|
|Number of rooms||350|
The La Concha was opened by M.K. Doumani. When it opened, the La Concha was one of the larger properties on the Las Vegas Strip. Various celebrities had stayed at the motel, including Ronald Reagan, Ann-Margret, Flip Wilson, Muhammad Ali, and the Carpenters. The La Concha was featured in the 1995 film Casino. In its later years, the motel was owned by M.K. Doumani's son and grandson: Ed and Lorenzo Doumani. The Doumani family also owned the adjacent El Morocco.
In March 2001, Ed Doumani said he was considering options for the La Concha, saying, "Property taxes are huge and power is expensive." Doumani also complained of various costs such as a mandated beautification project of the Las Vegas Strip, in which each property had to help fund a new median with foliage and trees: "I had to pay $295,000 for what amounted to five palm trees. A large place can absorb that, we can't. We're probably going to knock (La Concha) down sometime this year. The land is more valuable than the buildings on it." At that time, the La Concha had been maintaining a high occupancy rate, despite lacking typical amenities such as a restaurant, casino, pool, and room service. Despite the motel's success, Doumani planned to replace it with a boutique hotel that would include condominiums and shopping, which he said would be a better use of the land.
Later in 2001, the property was approved for a 520-foot hotel tower, a 645-foot condominium tower, and a shopping mall. In late 2003, it was announced that La Concha would be closed and demolished to make room for a new project, later announced as the Majestic condominium/Conrad hotel resort. On December 11, 2003, a 100-room wing of the motel was demolished. Before being fully demolished, the La Concha was expected to continue operating for another six months, with a nine-story tower located in the back of the property, and with 139 rooms at the former El Morocco motel. The property was expected to be cleared by July 4, 2004.
The motel lobby was a concrete shell lobby. The motel sections of La Concha Motel and the former El Morocco Motel next door were torn down in 2005. By August 2005, only the lobby was still standing; it served as a sales office for the Majestic condominiums. By that point, Doumani had donated the lobby to the city's Neon Museum, which hoped to raise $600,000 to divide the lobby and reassemble it at the museum. The Doumanis had hoped to integrate the shell-shaped lobby into the Majestic project as the entrance to its shops or to a club. However, the lobby could not be worked into the design. In November 2005, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority agreed to provide $300,000 for the lobby's relocation effort. Later that month, a reception was held to help raise the rest of the money necessary for the lobby's relocation. In January 2006, the full $600,000 was in place.
The La Concha Motel is now restored in the Neon Museum. The museum saved part of the hotel sign designed by the Young Electric Sign Company. The La Concha motel was also neighbors of the Riviera Hotel and Casino, the Peppermill Restaurant, and the Silver City Casino. The motel's sign, before it was removed, read "COLOR TV" and included advertisements.
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- The Neon Boneyard: Paying Tribute to the Bright Lights at Rates To Go