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New face for Peppermill

Rob Sabo

After completing construction of the 62,000-square foot Tuscany Ballroom and 19-story Tuscany Tower, the Peppermill Hotel and Casino is remodeling its fa ade facing South Virginia Street to better match the rustic Italian look of the new buildings.

The resort also is building a three-story, 640-space employee parking garage at Brinkby Avenue and Lymberry Street that will double as special-events parking, as well as renovating rooms in the old Peppermill Tower.

Additionally, construction continues on an upscale three-story spa and salon near the swimming pool that is expected to be finished in October.

The $7 million fa ade upgrade is part of the Peppermill’s $400 million expansion. The remodel removes the plain-looking existing architecture fronting South Virginia Street and replaces it with a new fountain, two grand staircases, gondolas, verandas and a 14-foot statue of Caesar.

The majority of the upgrades, such as the staircases and windows, will be for show only and won’t actually enter the building. Workers are applying sheets of foam and wire mesh over existing stucco surfaces to create Tuscan shapes such as columns and arches.

“We are putting a lot of effort into tying the exterior of the building, especially the front, into what we’ve built inside and at the back of the building,” says Bill Hughes, director of marketing operations.

Jim Hammons, senior project manager for general contractor Pacific Mountain Contractors of Reno, says the new look gives the entire property “architectural consistency.” Loving & Campos Architects of Walnut Creek, Calif. designed the new fa ade. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of October.

“It is a Tuscan theme with a little touch of Venice,” Hughes says. “It is a big expense just for architectural treatment. But what we are going to end up with is that all our architecture will be tied together. We are doing this obviously to support our business, but it helps support the entire town. It creates a complete resort complex.”

Adds Hammons: “This facility will give us as close to a Las Vegas concept as anything Reno has.”

Construction of the $9 million parking garage, which gives the property more than 2,300 covered parking spaces, is expected to be completed in late September. Peter Wilday Architects of Reno designed the parking structure, as well as the spa and salon.

“As our facility continues to grow, we feel that we need a little more capacity for employees,” Hughes says. “The other nice thing about it is that when we have a large local event we will want to direct special-events people over there because it is right across the street from the special-events center.”

Hughes says the facility also increases safety in the Brinkby/Lymberry area. “It improves the neighborhood environment,” he says. “Lymberry, we have already done a lot of dressing up to that street with the back of the (Tuscany) building, and I think this adds a stronger sense of security to that area, which has been a problem. There will be security cameras and things along that line.”

Interior remodel of the 1,178-room Peppermill Tower will continue into 2009. More than 600 rooms already have been upgraded to match rooms in the new Tuscany Tower.