Some historic homes still in way of UNR expansion

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) As long as there's been a university on the hill and a downtown below, there's been a neighborhood in between.

In recent years it became a collection of aging motels and homes. A decade ago developers proposed an ambitious effort to bridge that gap.

The Tessera Project, as it was called, would have filled a five-block area with a combination of student housing, office space, even a boutique-non-gaming hotel, all aimed at attracting alternative energy companies and research.

Like many proposed projects, it never materialized, but things are happening now.

Four years ago, the city kicked things off by announcing plans to demolish an old motel on Virginia Street. Today work is underway there on what will be Canyon Flats. a privately-funded 158-unit student housing development.

North of the freeway, the university is moving ahead with its plans for campus expansion. But there's a collection of older homes standing in its way.

With white picket fences and gingerbread trim, some of the homes date back to a time when the university itself was defined by historic Morrill Hall anchoring a traditional quad.

After a century of standing side by side with yesterday's campus, they have no part in its future. So, one way or the other, they have to go.

In the last week, with some delays, one of them was carted off to a new location. But eleven remain.

None of these homes is on a historic register, but some would qualify and we do know that some of them apparently will be saved.

821 Center Street, for instance, has a contract to be purchased and moved, and 829, with its distinctive spire, has a letter of intent to do the same.

One block over on Lake Street, 829 has been spoken for and to be bought and moved, but no one yet has spoken up for 843 and its distinctive porch.

In all the eleven, eight are either under contract to be moved or someone is planning to do so. Three remain in jeopardy.

The clock is ticking. The university says the houses must be moved by the end of the year or they will be demolished.

As the university moves to fill that gap in what's being called the Gateway between campus and downtown, academic buildings will rise where a historic neighborhood has stood.