Downtown Reno is continuing to evolve including the Fourth Street Corridor.
To highlight the development in the district, CREW of Northern Nevada held a panel discussion luncheon Wednesday, March 15 at the Atlantis Resort Casino Spa. The event allowed business owners and leaders from the Fourth Street Corridor to discuss revitalization and growth in the area as well as some of the challenges and obstacles the district currently faces.
Noah Silverman, co-founder and executive director of the Reno Bike Project, said that the biggest challenge that the district faces is “the perception that the homeless community brings.”
The panelists said that the perception is more of the challenge for businesses in the district than the issue of homelessness itself.
“The homelessness seems to be a bigger issue than it actually is,” Chris Shanks, owner of The Depot, Louis’ Basque Corner as well as a commercial broker at Dickson Commercial Group, said.
Shanks said while they do have a couple of incidents a year, businesses in Midtown and downtown also face similar issues.
“The homeless shelter gets a bad rap for what it does.” Pat Cashell, the regional director for Volunteers of America, which runs Reno’s homeless shelter located on Record Street, said. “We are not the cause of homelessness we are trying to eliminate it in the community.”
Cashell said that the issue is manageable right now but he cautioned that as Reno continues to grow the homeless population will increase if the community does not work to come up with innovated solutions to address the issue.
He also explained that much of the homeless population suffers from mental illness, and while the job market is improving it will not necessarily help alleviate the homelessness issue.
“It is great that the job market is improving,” Cashell said. “…This isn’t a population that is employable.”
Aside from this challenge, the panelists also highlighted many other aspects of the corridor. Work to upgrade the infrastructure is currently underway including moving utility lines underground.
“It is a friendly place to do business,” Shanks said, “There is a lot more parking than Midtown and downtown and a lot of big buildings and big lots.”
The district has seen revitalization with the addition of new businesses, breweries, and a new winery owned by one of the panelists at the event, Mike Steedman.
“I didn’t put my winery someplace else, I put my winery on Fourth Street because I want people to come down,” Steedman said, who is also the owner of Studio on Fourth.
“There is still a lot of opportunity,” Silverman said.
Shanks said that they need to add to the mix of businesses as the area continues to develop.
“I think that you need more than just bars and restaurants to get a healthy retail mix,” Shanks said.
“I think that we will have the Midtown effect to a certain degree,” Silverman said.
However, one attendee said that it is important for district creates its own identity as it continues to develop, whether that identity is the Brewery District or something else.
“I think let Midtown be Midtown and define yourself as something different because from a land use perspective you are already (different),” Cynthia Albright, senior associate of community development for Stantec, said.
The panelists said that district needs to continue to work with the City of Reno and RTC to bring more people to the area.
“It is just getting people down there and realizing it is safe,” Steedman said.