Projects Moving Ahead to Revitalize Downtown

The Reno City Council heard proposed departmental budgets Monday, including the budget for the Redevelopment Agency. Although that budget, like others, is tight, the agency expects to move on at least one downtown project shortly.

It seems like we've been looking at the signs and empty lots downtown for some time.

It's been a process of trying to attract developers and that continues, but the agency is preparing to move ahead on one project on its own, if need be.

The lot at the corner of W. 1st & Sierra Steets sits as empty today as it was a few years ago when the Granada Theatre came tumbling down . . . and several months after work was to have begun here on a restaurant-retail-aparment complex.

The project, which once looked promising with 100% occupancy all but insured, with four well-known local restaurant operators among them.

The deal fell through and though the redevelopment agency is continuing to talk with others, and it is also making plans to build the complex itself if need be.

The redevelopment agency is funded by the downtown tax increment district and that source took a hit this year again as many of the downtown properties sought - and received - reductions in their property tax assessments.

But last year also saw the city and the convention authority shift responsibility for the National Bowling Stadium. One outcome of that swap was that the convention authority paid the redevelopment agency for the land under the stadium.

That gives the agency the money to move ahead with the project at first and Sierra.

There are other projects waiting. The next focus may be right across the street, the small lot on one corner of the theatre complex. And then there's the proposed public plaza on the old Mapes site, winter home for the Rink on the River and about to be the summer-time home of an outdoor Farmer's Market and bazaar.

The redevelopment agency will take some part in its transformation. On the backburner, but very much on the books is the property next to the Riverside and beyond that some of the other empty buildings downtown.

These projects would change the character of downtown.

Although they could involve some large parcels of property in the hotel casino core, it's unlikely they'd be put to that use. Hotel casino construction has almost come to a halt - even in Las Vegas.

What we may see instead is a rebirth of downtown retail. Ironically, that was once a thriving part of the downtown, until it fled to the outskirts decades ago.


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