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November 25, 2014

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Joe Downtown: In Naked City, a house of light has shined for four years

Casa de Luz Begins Restoration Project

Pastor Chris Chapel poses in the courtyard at Casa de Luz, a small church in the Naked City area Monday, April 15, 2013. The church, which currently services about 1,800 area residents with a food pantry, is beginning on a major renovation project. Launch slideshow »

Naked City in downtown Las Vegas, an area roughly west/northwest of the Stratosphere, is one of those zones you have to make an effort to visit. And it’s a place that, once there, you might wish the effort had never been made.

Some of the city’s poorest live here. It doesn’t feel safe. It’s east Fremont Street before redevelopment touched down.

Had Trinity Schlottman felt that way about two years ago when he first visited Casa de Luz (“house of light”), a church and nonprofit organization that holds services and strives to help families in the area, it’s reasonable to think it might not have reached its four-year anniversary being celebrated today.

Schlottman, a builder and member of the Las Vegas Planning Commission, saw the dilapidated place with the partially caved-in roof with friend, Steve Evans, who was running for a City Council seat. They saw the kids, heard the stories of coming foreclosures, struggles and hopes.

“It is these rare moments that bring out the good in us all, and for me, a reminder of a faith, too often forgot,” Evans said in a short memory of that visit posted on Facebook in April.

As they left, Evans asked Schlottman, “Well, whaddya think?”

Schlottman replied, “I’m going to rebuild that place.”

Having spent thousands of his own money and enlisting the help of other contractors, members of the downtown community, and those in his own business, Artifice bar, he did just that.

The 4 p.m. event at Casa de Luz, 2412 Tam Drive, is not just the four-year anniversary, it’s the grand re-opening of the renovated building.

To read Evans’ heartfelt recollection of that visit and to learn about all the people who helped the organization, read his post.

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