Old Woolworth’s is now Shelter

Reno businessman Jamy Keshmiri has given the old Woolworth’s basement a new lease on life.

The underground space, which is aptly named Shelter, will open April 10 at 111 N. Virginia Street with Mayor Hillary Schieve doing the ribbon cutting honors, followed by a champagne toast, appetizers, bowling and more.

Shelter will have a dance floor and music at night, but during the day it’s designed to appeal to all ages.

“Families can come over and bowl right after going to the movies. There’s something for everybody really,” said Pete Metcalf, the general manager, who has worked with Keshimiri on other projects at his gentleman’s clubs in Reno.

The family friendly aspect of the business will end at about 10 p.m. each day when Shelter becomes a nightclub.

“That’s when the college crowd should start rolling in and things start getting lively,” said Metcalf, referring to the atmosphere that will feature upscale bar food, cocktails and a DJ.

“Mark Estee signature food items will be on the menu, courtesy of Reno Provisions,” said Metcalf, who helped oversee the construction of the 14,000-square-foot space, which needed extensive retrofitting and renovations. Tico Construction of Nevada was general contractor on the project.

He said the owners named the venue “Shelter” because when they first saw the empty basement in the old Woolworth’s building, it looked like a bomb shelter.

Now it’s filled with brand new fixtures and bright lights. A crew has been hired to work as cooks, bartenders, servers, and bowling lane attendants.

The concrete slab floor had to be built up 14 inches from the ground in order to accommodate the six-lane “boutique bowling alley” from Brunswick, which has shorter lanes. A dividing wall was also put into place with insulation to soundproof the noise of balls hitting pins from the rest of the business.

“We spent a decent amount (on renovations),” said Metcalf, who didn’t want to be too specific on the dollar amount. When pressed, he said the project was completed for “under $5 million” and took about seven months.

The seven-story building comprises 85,000 square feet on First and Virginia streets; Keshmiri has indicated that he plans to eventually develop the entire building, including a grocery store.

As the Shelter was being renovated, Metcalf unearthed traces of old Reno in the building. “I found some old drink coupons from the Mapes Hotel,” which apparently leased some space in the upper floors. “It was way before my time, but some of the boilers in the building also heated the Mapes” across Virginia Street, said Metcalf.


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