Carson City redevelopment project on track

Looking at the outside of the Washington Street Station on Thursday, property co-owner Tom Johnson decided an area designated for a window really needed to be a door.

Good thing the construction worker hadn't cut the concrete block wall yet.

"We kind of invent things as we go," contractor Dick Hadlock said. "You don't know what you're going to find from day to day. All we saved were the walls and the roof, and we had to fix that."

It would have been "infinitely easier," Hadlock said, to have razed the building and started over. But Johnson pointed out he couldn't have rebuilt the same amount of space on the lot at the corner of Washington and Carson streets.

"It would have been easier to start from bare dirt," Johnson said. "This thing is like a work in progress."

At least something is happening to the old Golden Spike Casino. The building sat empty and boarded up at the entrance of Carson City's historic downtown for years.

"It's been the biggest eyesore in town for the last 10 years," Johnson said. "It's going from nothing to the best thing in town by next year.

"The redevelopment district starts here. This is the gateway to downtown. When the economy allows you to do something like this, you do it."

Facing Carson Street, a new front is being built onto the $1.75 million project. Its cave-like interior is a tangle of construction work now.

Workers from Hadlock Construction have built a building within a building, using steel and concrete to reinforce the walls and ceiling in many areas. Windows lean against one wall, waiting for window holes to be knocked into the cinder-block walls.

On the building's east side, small bulldozers cut through the concrete floor. It's hard to imagine the building beyond the dust and noise of a construction site, but for Johnson and Hadlock, it's not hard at all to imagine the room as a restaurant with office space above it.

The lower floor will be filled with retail stores, the upper floor with offices.

"I could see it all along, but now I can bring tenants in and they can see it, too," Johnson said. "It will be a really nice project for downtown. "

Johnson, owner of Gold Dust Commercial Associates, is at the site nearly every other day to make sure things like the door fit into the project.

At least once a week, contractors, architects, and Johnson's partner John Serpa Jr. meet to go over plans. Serpa and Johnson own the building through the Carson Cinema Group LLC.

Hadlock said the building's location near the Nevada State Museum and the Nugget Casino would encourage foot traffic in the redevelopment area.

"We're brining this place into the 21st century and it will stand out from what it was," he said. "There aren't enough places to walk around, and it will really clean up the area down here."

The building is being converted into a Victorian/Western-themed retail-office center with more than 20,000 square feet of office space.

In June 1999 the city's Redevelopment Authority and Board of Supervisors approved $100,000 in redevelopment incentive money to the building's refurbishment. The work was to be finished within a year to receive the money. Demolition work halted in December as a bureaucratic mess involving several permits held the project up for several months.

All problems were ironed out and Hadlock is trying to make up for lost time to have the building ready for tenants in September.

The Carson City Redevelopment Authority Citizen's Committee voted Wednesday to extend the time limit on the incentive money until December. Redevelopment Authority Chairwoman Robin Williamson said the group's good effort to move the project forward convinced her to extend the deadline for the funds.

"I think the (committee) can see this is really coming together," Johnson said. "They know we're here for the duration."


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