City adjusts boundaries of future auto sales area

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal An overview of car dealerships along South Carson Street, where a redevelopment project is aiming to create an auto row.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal An overview of car dealerships along South Carson Street, where a redevelopment project is aiming to create an auto row.

Carson City is refining a plan to create a redevelopment zone along South Carson Street in an ongoing effort to retain auto dealers.

Drawing the lines around what will ultimately be the city's second redevelopment district has proved complicated, though, as some businesses want in and others want out of the deal. The latest map designates about 130 acres slated for redevelopment.

Supervisor Pete Livermore asked to pull his family-owned A&W Restaurant from the map last week. If included in the redevelopment zone, he would have been prohibited by law to expand his business because he is a member of the Redevelopment Authority.

"Until I'm no longer on the board, it doesn't serve in my family's best interest to restrict my ability to properly operate my business," Livermore said.

David Ruf, owner of the Greenhouse Garden Center, said he and a few other business owners were disappointed they weren't included in the zone.

"A number of us in the south end felt slighted," Ruf said. "We wanted to be included."

The first proposal earlier this year called for including the entire southern commercial district. That changed in February when city supervisors decided to include only auto dealerships, parcels related to auto sales and adjacent properties.

After further review, a city committee decided to include the state-owned former Nevada National Guard buildings and some parcels that might potentially be attractive to dealers for expansion.

Supervisors reviewed the latest proposal last week, but sent it back to the Planning Commission after Livermore opted out. Any property owners who wants out of the district can request it from the Planning Commission. City staff may bring the revised plan to the commission July 28, but the date has yet to be finalized.

Businesses who are outside the boundary but want to be included have missed their chance at this point, said Joe McCarthy, city economic development and redevelopment director.

Through redevelopment, the city can offer dealers incentives, improve landscaping, traffic circulation and assist in auto marketing efforts and help with special events, McCarthy said. It also provides limited use of eminent domain.

"We're hopeful and we're certainly confident that we'll be able to retain auto dealers and grow that sector in our community," McCarthy said.

The city signed an agreement in December 2003 with two major auto dealers, Michael Hohl and Dink Cryer. The two purchased land in Douglas County that year, prompting concern among city officials who feared the loss of the major retail sector.

With the agreement, the dealers promised not to build auto dealerships on the Douglas County land for up to two years to allow the city to negotiate an incentive package and development of an auto mall.

The auto mall development will be reviewed at the end of the year. If dealers find that substantial progress has not been made, the restriction can be lifted on the Douglas County land to allow Michael Hohl Honda and Subaru dealerships to relocate.

Supervisor Richard Staub was instrumental in the city agreement and has worked with dealers to include parcels in the city's proposed redevelopment district. With the additional property, the area could support the development of an "auto row," Staub said.

"We felt this was a reasonable pilot project," Staub said. "I will admit we have stretched the boundary."

If dealers decide to relocate, the redevelopment district could assist in rehabilitating the large lots left behind.

Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Larry Osborne said businesses support the pilot project, but have concerns about the use of eminent domain.

"We're concerned with the need to include other properties," Osborne said.

Redevelopment areas exist for a limited period and are funded through a program that caps property taxes at a designated level. Taxes collected up to that level are distributed to the city's general fund and school districts. Any growth in taxes realized beyond the set level is collected by the Redevelopment Authority to spend for improving the designated area.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.


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