Annie Conway and Brook Bentley |
Reno Vice Mayor Oscar Delgado, Reno City Councilmember Neoma Jardon, Reno City Councilmember David Bobzien, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Reno City Councilmember Paul McKenzie stand in front of demolition equipment at 500 North Virigina Street earlier this month.
Brook Bentley/NNBW |

The City of Reno began demolition on two blighted motels in downtown Reno earlier this month.

The two motels, located at 500 Virginia Street, were formally known as Heart o’ Town and the Golden West. The buildings have remained vacant for more than seven and a half years.

“Blight has been incredibly important in this corridor and we have really set out to change it for downtown,” Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said at a press conference held Tuesday, Sept. 6.

“You can really tell, (the motels) have been pretty dilapidated,” she said.

This past July, the city awarded Q&D Construction the contract to demolish the two motels at a cost not to exceed $216,463.69. Funding for the demolition is being paid out of the city’s $1 million Blight Mitigation Capital Projects Fund. According to a press release by the City of Reno, the city has used approximately $347,000 of the Blight Initiative funds thus far.

The property is currently owned by Northern Nevada Urban Developers & Management Company LLC., which is made up of more than 60 developers. They have entered an agreement with the City of Reno to repay the city for the costs of demolition and for the city to place a special assessment lien on the property.

Prior to the decision to demolition the motels, the group of more than 60 developers rejected a cash offer from local developer HabeRae. HabeRae wanted to purchase the property from the developers at market value and repurpose the buildings into affordable housing units.

The property is part of a larger area called the Tessera District that is eligible for tax incentives for developers who build mixed-use developments.

“Although we don’t know who will make this downtown spot come alive in the upcoming years, today’s demolition helps assure that this area looks better then it did before,” Reno Vice Mayor Oscar Delgado said at the press conference. “Developers now have an opportunity, once property is purchased, to make sure that we live to the potential that we all know downtown deserves.”

Council member Neoma Jardon said that the demolition of the motels will help to further connect UNR with downtown.

“A big portion of this is the connectivity with the university,” Jardon said. “We truly are a university town and this signifies a significant step in improving our downtown to attract the university’s 20,000-plus students and faculty.”

Delgado said he hopes that the area will become sort of a university village with student housing or affordable workforce housing.

“This is really exciting because it truly is about a Reno Revival,” Schieve said about the demolition of the two motels.

Downtown is continuing to draw new businesses and entrepreneurs to the area Schieve said. She highlighted redevelopment of Kings Inn into a 94-unit apartment complex called 3rd Street Flats, the new Virginia Street Bridge, the announcement of the software technology company CAEK as well the attraction of new downtown retailers West Elm and Patagonia all as examples of this revitalization.

“While it may appear that there are not a lot of big things happening … collectively there is a lot of improvements coming toward downtown Reno,” Jardon said.