A major milestone

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By Optic Editorial Board

Gov. Susana Martinez and many others were in Las Vegas last week to celebrate the purchase of the Castañeda Hotel.

The closing of the real estate deal marks a major milestone for Las Vegas. The building, after all, is one of the city’s architectural gems, and it has been deteriorating for decades.

Arizona hotelier Alan Affeldt and his business partners plan to renovate the historic structure and return it to its former glory. They also hope to purchase the Plaza Hotel.

We can think of no better buyer for the Castañeda than Affeldt, who purchased another Harvey House Hotel in Winslow, Ariz., and restored it.

But even more exciting is Affeldt’s approach.

He has said he plans to use local crews for the renovation. He wants to use a local bank to finance the Plaza Hotel deal.

And he believes in this city and its future.

“I love architecture and design, and I’ve loved Las Vegas for a long time,” Affeldt has said. “It’s just a beautiful town. I think it’s the prettiest small town in the Southwest, and I think it would be really fun to work on a project there.”

Sometimes it takes an outsider to come in and hold a mirror up to show us how fortunate we are. That’s exactly what Affeldt is doing, and we thank him for it.

Highlands University economics professor Bill Taylor says that beyond revitalizing the Railroad District, the purchase and forthcoming renovation of the Castañeda provides a symbolic boost to our community.

Evidence of the emotional uplift also emerged in the spruced-up appearance of the town’s business districts. One of several planned clean-up days happened to coincide with the Castañeda’s festivities, and the organized cleaning became contagious.

“It changes the mood of the town from pessimism to optimism,” Taylor said earlier this month. “A lot more people are going to see the glass half full versus half empty.”

It’s worth noting that this deal didn’t just happen. MainStreet de Las Vegas and its executive director, Cindy Collins, have been quietly working behind the scenes on this deal, and this community owes them a debt of gratitude. Similarly, Mayor Alfonso Ortiz Jr. and the city have been lobbying state officials to support Affeldt’s purchase of the Plaza Hotel. They, too, deserve credit for moving this deal along.

Lastly, we thank Affeldt and his business partners for believing in Las Vegas and, in Affeldt’s own words, “taking a leap of faith” and closing on the Castañeda purchase while the Plaza deal remains up in the air.

We wish him the best of luck in his endeavor.