Revitalizing Midtown

RENO, NV - At a special meeting at Reno City Hall on Thursday, residents with a stake in the Midtown area got to share their ideas on how to make the neighborhood more of a draw.

It was a standing-room-only crowd. Business owner Jessica Schneider, who heads the MidTown Merchants Association, says they've gotten a lot of support in recent months.

"I own Junkee clothing exchange and I've been there four years," Schneider said. "I've really seen a difference in Midtown in that time and I've been trying to recruit businesses to come to this area and to keep it clean."

That's an area the neighborhood has struggled with. Many at the meeting pointed out that drugs and transients are things people who live and work there deal with on a daily basis.

The entire Reno City Council was present; as was representatives from the Reno Police Department. The groups say they're dedicated to working together to find some long-term solutions to problems like these.

For merchants, one of the biggest obstacles they're facing is parking. There's just not enough of it.

"I'm not concerned about a tree, a bench, I'm concerned about parking," Schneider said. "We can't keep our sales tax up if people can't park and come shop at our businesses and eat at our restaurants."

Restaurants that have been key in revitalizing the area.

"Over the last few years the food has really led the way," said Scott Emond of Craft Wine and Beer. "The food industry has really been picking up the pace and growing drastically, as well as the craft beer and the craft wine segment, so it's really hitting its stride and coming into its own."

Patrick Turner, Marketing Manager for the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, sees the area as part of the destination, not just the journey.

"We've seen great changes in this area and it's been amazing to see this district come alive," Turner said. "Especially since it's sort of a corridor between our airport visitors and downtown. It would be great it people could have a nonstop, great experience as they travel from the airport all the way to downtown to gamble and have fun."

There were a lot of ideas at Thursday's meeting, and it seemed like for the most part, everyone was on the same page. Now the city council will take what they've heard and come up with a plan they hope to have in place by the beginning of October.

"It's ambitious," Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza said.

But it can be done.

"I think everyone in Reno is taking notice of Midtown," Schneider said. "It's really changed in the last year and it's really exciting."

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