Carson City Board of Supervisors move ahead with Bob McFadden Plaza on 3rd Street

Bob McFadden Plaza is expected to grace downtown Carson City due to action Thursday by the Board of Supervisors.

The board, first acting as the Redevelopment Authority and then as the consolidated city’s policy-making body, approved spending $490,000 over two years and tacking on almost $75,000 in utilities money for associated underground work as it accepted a plaza conceptual design targeted for West 3rd Street, which would be closed. Public and private money will produce the plaza, which will feature an entertainment stage and a splash pad type of water feature.

The plaza project will receive a $125,000 donation from a half dozen members of the McFadden family and the public space will be named for the late Carson City real estate man, who died a decade ago in November h2004. McFadden earlier bought the old and run down Pony Express Hotel to restore it into a refurbished St. Charles Hotel, reviving that name from its glory days.

The structure now houses Firkin & Fox bistro. The late real estate man also revitalized other 3rd Street businesses, and Supervisor John McKenna at one point Thursday credited McFadden with saving downtown.

Also involved on the private side of the public/private project are Mark and Jenny Lopiccolo, current owners of the St. Charles Hotel structure at Carson and West 3rd streets. The plaza will run from Carson to Curry streets there.

“It could be a huge thing for downtown Carson City,” said Jenny Lopiccolo, who had contacted the McFadden family as soon as she saw a plaza looked feasible.

“They were probably the first ones I called,” she testified prior to the board’s action. She praised the McFadden family donation commitment. “I was blown away by that whole thing.”

She also credited City Manager Nick Marano with being a driving force behind getting the project moving. Marano acted quickly after the Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee (RACC) made such a downtown plaza a top priority.

The Lopiccolos said they also are providing private input. After the meeting, Mark Lopiccolo, who has Lopiccolo Construction, said they already have perhaps $1 million in the St. Charles and will provide part of the rear parking lot for the stage. He said probably $150,000 from that and an in-kind commitment is designed to help make the plaza work out. Lopiccolo said they have the St. Charles and three other downtown property parcels.

With the redevelopment funding over two years, the utilities funds and the McFadden family donation the total project cost was pegged at almost $689,000. Marano and other city staff assured board members RACC members would be shown and asked to provide their input, as well as sign off on the final design, but there was a timing impetus to moving forward quickly.

“We’re being a little pushy; I get that,” said Public Works Director Darren Schulz. He and other staffers explained it makes sense to coordinate the plaza design and the design for a retooled Carson Street downtown, a capital project previously authorized at the conceptual design stage, for which “request for proposal” overtures are set to go out as soon as today. The goal is to include the plaza and work toward the projects interfacing seamlessly.

Rob McFadden, who appeared on behalf of the McFadden family, said as he testified in support of the project that there are things to do downtown but not a true attraction like the one envisioned as a plaza.

After the meeting, the banker said his father took a strip mall along 3rd Street from Carson to Curry streets, along with what he called a flop house and revitalized them. With Rob McFadden were his wife, Heidi, and sister, Carson.

Parks Planner Vern Krahn provided a project conceptual design overview, but various questions from board members to him and Community Development Director Lee Plemel were asked but left for later. Krahn did say the crosswalk from the legislative mall to the east would be realigned to the center of the plaza and the stage location, which faces north, allowing audience spillover to the east by closing Curry Street temporarily during events.

Lopiccolo said she has researched the splash pond concept and it can operate flush with plaza pavers, attracting children and families daily, but be shut off for entertainment events. Her husband said the water feature also is able to be shut down and winterized for colder months of the year.

Marano, meanwhile, said the naming matter and project details would return to the board later. He pushed for the board to go all-in with the nearly half million dollars in redevelopment money in part to provide a showcase for the community. He said getting it done after the next legislative session ends in 2015 may be possible, which would show residents how business corridors can be revitalized.

In another board action earlier Thursday, members voted 4-1 to support issuing $13.6 million in bonds to fund the Carson Street project downtown, other upgrades for business corridors, building a multi-purpose athletic center, constructing an animal shelter and enhancing community center cultural opportunities in a multi-phased capital projects package. Supervisor Jim Shirk cast the dissenting vote, but said he’ll offer a voice in projects’ detail work.

“Our work has just begun,” said Shirk, “and I will be part of that work.”

The capital improvement package’s bonds are backed by a one-eighth of a penny increase in city sales tax, which raises about $1 million annually. The downtown phase, which is among the first being tackled, envisions wider sidewalks on Carson Street, bike lanes, three traffic lanes with the middle one a turn lane, removing medians, and adding amenities in an effort to increase downtown activity.


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