Downtown Sparks transformation underway
July 1, 2016
Victorian Square in Sparks is undergoing a dramatic transformation. With more than 500 apartments under construction, remodel, or approved for future construction, the square is on track to becoming a bustling location instead of open, often nearly empty, parking lots.
The latest edition to the square is The Bridges development approved by the Sparks City Council June 14.
J Carter Witt, president of Silverwing Development, expects to break ground on The Bridges in October.
"We're working very hard on (details of the) plan," Witt said in a phone interview with the NNBW. "There are a lot of bells and whistles."
“(Victorian Square) is going to be different and it’s going to be better.”Armando Ornelas Jr.City of Sparks Assistant Community Service Director - Development
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The Bridges projects includes 198 apartment units, secure parking structures and 13,000 square feet of retail space, in two buildings.
The south building includes a four-story atrium and covered outdoor area on the second floor where residents can gather with a fire pit, fountains and a "super-large" television screen.
In addition, each apartment has its own outdoor deck, modern décor and environmental amenities such as LED lighting.
Silverwings' subsidiary SWD-Quarry Bridges is purchasing the lots from the Sparks Redevelopment Agency for the appraised price of $750,000, or $12.64 per square foot.
Silverwings' Fountainhouse apartment complex is under construction nearby, giving the development company a pretty big stake in the future of Victorian Square.
"Sparks is great place to work in," Witt said. "Staff are very professional problem solvers, as we are. Nobody is rolling over for us. We sit down and work out issues.
"They've got a vision and we're all pretty much on the same page."
The Bridges development will replace surface parking just south of the parking garage at the Century Sparks Theatre in Victorian Square.
Fountainhouse, also replaces parking lots to the west and southwest of the theater.
The space was never intended to be a parking lot, Witt said.
Years ago the city demolished a building at the site. When a planned development fell through, the city installed temporary parking to fill the space until another plan came along.
The parking spaces, along with the two parking garages in Victorian Square, stand nearly empty most of the year except during special events such as Hot August Nights, and the Best In The West Nugget Rib Cookoff.
Armando Ornelas Jr., Sparks assistant community service director – development, confirmed the status of the parking areas.
"The parking lots were always intended to be developed to bring life back to downtown," Ornelas said.
"The council is quite supportive of the (Bridges) project. The project is consistent with the adopted redevelopment plan."
He noted that even during events, the parking areas were staging areas, not parking.
"We'll continue to host events. Events evolve (and adapt)," he said. "Virginia Square is a great place to host events."
To handle parking and traffic issues, shuttle services are increasingly an essential part of special events in the region.
The city of Sparks is enhancing its special event shuttle services. Shuttles will be offered for the July 3rd Stars Spangled Sparks event between Reed High School and downtown Sparks.
"It's actually quite easy to use and doesn't cost anything," Witt said of shuttle services, specifically a proposed shuttle linking the Victorian Square with the Outlets at Sparks.
Replacing empty parking lots with apartments and retail space will substantially change downtown Sparks, creating a new urban development where everything is in walking distance.
"It's very walkable, more planned," Witt said, noting that the apartments close proximity to the theater, Nugget Casino and various dining and shopping options, as well as the special events.
"You walk out your door and you're there," he said. "It's unsurpassed."
Ornelas noted the new developments will increase activity in downtown Sparks 365 days a year instead of just during special events.
"It's going to be different and it's going to be better," he said.