Reno's old post office building reborn as a retail center

Published: Aug. 11, 2016 at 5:54 PM PDT
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Reno's old post office building has occupied a piece of prime real estate at the city's very core on the shores of the Truckee for most of a century.

It was designed, as was many of Nevada's most important buildings, by noted Reno architect Frederic deLongchamps, and stands as a prime example of the Art Deco style.

When it was built in 1933, and for decades after, it shared the downtown with all sorts of retail outlets, but one by one they left for shopping centers in the suburbs.

It stayed, a relic of the past, then finally closed. Now it's open again, ironically because retail is returning to the downtown.

"There's a lot more urban dwelling," says project manager Brianna Bullentini. "People want that walk-ability, walk to the coffee shop, walk to the stores to shop. So I think the younger generation is causing that and to accommodate them more retail will be coming downtown."

Every project like this needs an anchor and today it has one, a West Elm furniture store in a light, airy ground floor where postal employees once sorted mail.

An atrium--a DeLongchamps original long covered by some bureaucratic decision--now floods the place with lots of natural light.

There's activity up here and below.

"The basement is a marketplace underneath us with 14 local vendors. And then you have West Elm on the main floor here as the anchor store and the top two floors we working out now, but there's office space that's actually vacant."

Some of the shops down in the basement have been open for months. Others, like a snack bar/restaurant are just getting ready.

The key to success here, an emerging urban lifestyle, breathing new life into the downtown core.

"It's a brilliant building and it was closed for awhile," says Bullentini.. So, to see it come back to life with such an awesome brand. The city is super fortunate to have West Elm here."