Developers propose plans for Mapes site

RENO, Nev. - Three developers have submitted proposals for projects to be built on the site of the old Mapes Hotel in downtown Reno.

Now, five city advisory boards will review the plans before they go to the City Council next month.

The most detailed proposal unveiled on Monday involves construction of Bugsy Malone's Speakeasy hotel-casino. The $150 million project envisions a 624-room hotel-casino with a Roaring Twenties theme.

California developer L. Richard Wilkerson proposed the River Walk at Virginia, a collection of shops, restaurants and a small casino, along with some time-share units and hotel rooms.

And plans submitted by Holiday Hotel owner Barney Ng call for an arts and outdoor sports shopping district on the site.

None of the offers would pay the Reno Redevelopment Agency for all of the public money tied up in the Mapes lot as well as the so-called midblock, between the Mapes and the new movie theater, on the north side of the river.

But the money would be recaptured in future property and sales taxes, especially if these properties fire up a revival of the river district city officials have been chasing the last few years.

Since 1997, the city has been working with San Diego developer DDR-OliverMcMillan, which owns the Century Theater downtown, on the river project.

But the company walked away from the Mapes property last year and the midblock this year.

Bugsy's would seek to be a five-star property, a boutique hotel-casino catering to top company executives for board retreats and other meetings, said Reno gaming consultant Don McGhie, hired for the project by Bugsy Malone's Speakeasy LLC of Reno.

Hotel towers on the east and west side of Virginia Street would anchor a bridge 120 feet in the air over the street. The top floor would have a nightclub and restaurant named the Sky Room in honor of the Mapes.

The Bugsy group is offering to buy the Mapes block from the agency for $3 million and buy half the city's half of the mid-block for $1.5 million.

For the River Walk at Virginia project, Wilkerson is offering to buy the Mapes lot for $3.5 million.

Ng made no specific offer.

The redevelopment agency has spent $6.2 million on the Mapes and still owes $1.7 million with interest to the George Karadanis family. The agency has invested nearly $2 million in the block where the Granada theater once stood.


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