Victory Way block party
April 23 marked the inaugural Victory Way block party on Fourth Street. Victory Way, Fourth Street from a little beyond Elko Street to Lake Street near downtown houses the emerging brewery arts district. The event was designed for the public to tour the local businesses, learn the history of the district and become part of the story of Victory Way’s future.
Chris Shanks, co-founder of The Depot Craft Brewery & Distillery, said the event, “will bring good attention to the area and is a great event for Fourth Street.” Shanks also thought this event really marked the first informational general spotlight of the area.
The event sparked from the 2015 Vanguard Conference Big Idea Challenge in Reno last year, won by the Victory Way team. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) along side Next City, the City of Reno and Reno Art Works have been working to implement the vision of the winning idea.
Since the recession, Reno’s business and civic communities have worked hard to foster optimism and a startup economy in an area that has seen booms and busts. Shanks explained that the East Fourth Street corridor is an easy area to forget and they are happy to see new changes and development going on to encourage people to come explore the area.
Next City, a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities, selected Reno for its 2015 Vanguard Big Idea Challenge from a pool of 300 applicant cities. Last year, 55 young urban leaders from around the Western Hemisphere, Vanguards, came to Reno for a few days in May and were challenged to use the principles of tactical urbanism — small-scale, low-impact, low-cost interventions — to inspire additional long-term changes. Projects were limited to a budget of $10,000. The winning team, Victory Way, called for a series of public art projects along Fourth Street.
In a separate Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) project, the corridor is set to get a complete street renovation in the coming years, with better bus service, improved walkability and bike lanes.
The Victory Way block party incorporated art and music among the breweries and businesses that are growing there. The event included food, muralists, live music, a pop-up market place and interaction throughout the corridor. Volunteers also gave food out to the homeless during the event. Shanks said that, hopefully, the event would bring attention to issues like homelessness along this corridor.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) also unveiled the name of a new transit line that will serve the Fourth Street and Prater Way Corridor. The RTC Lincoln Line will have all-electric buses and be the nation’s first all-electric Bus RAPID Transit Service with operations beginning in early 2019.
“As more people look and inquire about the area it is only a matter of time before more projects pop up,” Shanks said regarding the ever-changing Fourth Street corridor. East Fourth Street has seen a variety of Reno’s history over the last century from manufacturing and restaurants to railroads and tourism. The area’s proximity to Reno’s key commercial district resulted in it becoming a route for streetcars as well as the converging point of Lincoln Highway and Victory Highway, two transcontinental highways. The 1920s saw it renamed U.S. Highway 40. It remained the primary east to west route until the completion of Interstate 80 in the 1970s. The heavy traffic increased the transient populations.
In 2010 the RTC built a new transit center on Fourth Street. Last Year RTC received a $16 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grant that will be used to modernize and upgrade infrastructure along the corridor as well as fund the new Lincoln Line.
With Fourth Street on the rebound the timing for redesigning this historic corridor to aid in continued growth couldn’t be better.
For more about Fourth Street, visit their Web site at http://www.renofourth street.com/.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.