RENO - Downtown Reno is about to grow by the size of two football fields.
Monday morning, the city of Reno celebrated a milestone on a re-development project downtown that began almost thirty years ago.
It's the latest step in the ongoing ReTrac program. Most long-time Reno residents remember when the project was first proposed...a plan to put railroad tracks underground...and then build the city back over top of them.
It sounded crazy to many, but now the longtime vision became much easier to see.
Finally, city officials signed their names on one of the support beams that will soon hold up a two-block section of downtown Reno near Sierra and Third Streets. Next, foundation will be laid...and the area will be ready for development.
"Maybe put some little shops, bookstores, coffee shops, maybe a little retail," said Reno Mayor, Bob Cashell.
City officials say the possibilities for new businesses are endless, but the mayor promised one thing...future development here will not involve gaming.
"No it will not be a casino. We've never even thought about it. We will not have one," said Cashell.
The project's been in the works for nearly three decades...and downtown improvement advocates say the endless plans, meetings, and even fights have been well worth the wait.
"It was a Hallmark day. We have concrete being poured at the baseball stadium, at West Street Market, and here. This is our day. We've seen other cities go through this. It's our day and it's time to seize it," said Jim Hunting, President of Reno's Downtown Improvement Association.
With the economy struggling and the city's budget tightly clenched, the project came at a good time. It's being paid for with leftover federal grants used to fund the under-budget train tracks that were completed two years ago.
Once the tracks are hidden...and the vision becomes a reality, downtown residents say outsiders will be flocking to the Biggest Little City.
"People in general, whether it's in Reno or in other places across the country, are coming back to the inner city. They love living downtown and getting involved. Reno's just wonderful," said downtown Reno resident, Kay Partlow.
City officials say they're already looking for private vendors and developers who might want to open up a store or a restaurant on the new property. You can expect future announcements as more decisions are made. The first phase is estimated to be complete by Christmas.