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Building’s sale makes history

Somewhere, up in the heavens, Ida Browder is looking down on Boulder City and smiling.

After four years of highs and lows, doom and gloom, centered around her building where she operated a cafe, there seems to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

On Monday, building owner Charles Lawson announced he has reached a deal with local businessman and restaurateur Dan Fox to sell the property.

That’s the kind of news we like to tell.

The building — Boulder City’s first commercial property — is an integral part of the city’s history.

Not only did Ida Browder feed the many men who came to build Hoover Dam, she served as their confidant, acted as a liaison between the dam workers and management, and provided banking services. She also convinced Congress to provide books to establish the city’s first public library.

The building’s fate has been in a state of limbo since 2015 when Mel’s Diner closed and Lawson purchased the building. Though his original plans called for the structure to be demolished and a new building constructed in its place, he decided to renovate the property after community protests.

Area residents didn’t want to see another piece of their history vanish in wake of the demolition of the city’s original hospital.

Work on Lawson’s proposed Atomic Tacos and art gallery was slow but steady until one day when work abruptly stopped in early 2016. At the time, a councilman said Lawson felt the city was not being responsive enough to downtown businesses.

The building’s fate has been a point of contention among residents and historic preservation proponents.

For a while, it served as an outdoor art gallery after Lawson granted local artists permission to paint murals on the plywood he used to board up the building. But as quickly as the original boards went up, a decision was made to tear down the building and the murals were removed.

Lawson even obtained a permit to demolish the property.

Fortunately, that never happened.

Situated at the corner of Nevada Way and Ash Street, the same block where the office is located, it has been an almost daily reminder for me of what could be.

Though Lawson has remained out of the limelight since he originally closed the building, insults and barbed comments have been tossed around the community, especially on social media, about his intentions and the property’s fate.

While we don’t know exactly what Fox’s plans for the building are, we do know that he doesn’t intend to demolish the building.

He said he wants to keep it as “historic and Boulder City” as possible. That’s a good thing.

Fox and Lawson are to be commended for working out a deal that keeps this historic building in place, as are those who worked behind the scenes to help pave the way for this transaction to take place.

That should bring a smile to the faces of everyone in — and above — town.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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