What’s Up Downtown: Building a gateway to the future of our community (Voices) | nnbw.com
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What’s Up Downtown: Building a gateway to the future of our community (Voices)

Heidi Gansert

What's Up Downtown

Sen. Heidi Gansert, a Downtown Reno Partnership board member, is executive director of external relations at University of Nevada, Reno.
Photo: Downtown Reno Partnership
EDITOR'S NOTE & CLARIFICATION: After this Voices column published, some confusion has circulated regarding it. To offer clarity: The Downtown Reno Partnership authors a Voices column, named "What's Up Downtown," once a month for the NNBW, as part of the publication's lineup of recurring columnists. While columns are typically authored by DRP Executive Director Alex Stettinski, we do allow board members or other staff to write a column should their expertise on a topic warrant reaching our audience. As noted in the tagline of this column, Heidi Gansert is a DRP board member who is employed by the University of Nevada, Reno as external affairs manager; however, to ensure transparency, we also note in the tagline that Ms. Gansert is a Republican state senator. As such, we supplied her senatorial email as a contact, considering she is an elected official. Lastly, as is the case with all Voices columns, none are paid, and the views expressed within may not necessarily reflect those of the NNBW.

RENO, Nev. — The University of Nevada, Reno’s “Gateway” district is a long-awaited extension of the University that is bordered by Interstate 80 on the south, 9th Street on the north, North Virginia Street on the west and Lake Street on the east.

The Gateway concept was first introduced in 2014 when the University of Nevada, Reno partnered with the City of Reno and the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) as part of a unified Master Planning process.

While the university contemplated expanding east in the mid-1990s, the City of Reno encouraged a shift to the south, with the Gateway envisioned as a catalyst for redevelopment of areas south of Interstate 80 and as a vehicle for the university to become more intimately engaged in the future of our community. 

Working together, the university and city of Reno have shared a vision that will further enhance downtown Reno’s revitalization efforts and permanently embed an ecosystem of knowledge-based innovation and industry in our community.

The creation of the Gateway, stretching from our campus into downtown, features new traffic patterns that will emphasize multi-modal transportation, as well as the development of businesses and buildings — including university academic and residential buildings — that will help remove past boundaries, either real or imagined, that have traditionally separated campus from downtown.

Our university believes that when there is a strong bond between a community and its university, where there is a free flow of talent and resources, where geography is seen not as a barrier but as fertile ground for sewing partnership and recognizing common goals, there is always the potential to have a dramatic impact on the social and economic wellbeing of a region.

This collaborative aspect of the Gateway cannot be underestimated. Just one example has been the work of the Downtown Reno Partnership and the planning work this group has done to make Downtown Reno safer and friendlier for the daily interface that our students, faculty and staff have with this growing area of our city.

Proposed future buildings in the Gateway include a new College of Business, Life Sciences buildings, expanded Innovation Center and parking garage with an ADA-accessible pedestrian bridge.

Recently, the ADA-compliant pedestrian bridge was approved by the city of Reno, which will allow construction of a parking garage to serve the south end of campus and tie the Gateway to the main campus. 

This bridge will serve more than 600 students currently registered with the university’s Disability Resource Center, as well as the rest of campus. Connecting the university’s Gateway with campus will allow freedom of movement for students, faculty, staff and community partners between the main part of campus and the Gateway area, and on to downtown Reno.

The Gateway’s academic buildings will not only help bolster the teaching, learning and engagement missions of our university, they are part and parcel of a much greater and more impactful university reach into the community, which includes the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center, a facility that has proven pivotal in becoming an entrepreneurial hub of cutting-edge research and the creation of new companies in the advanced manufacturing sector located near the downtown core. 

As Reno makes its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gateway concept’s value becomes even more magnified. In the short-term, capital construction projects associated with the Gateway will have real economic benefit — it is estimated that construction of the ADA pedestrian bridge and parking structure currently scheduled to begin in November will cost more than $33 million and employ approximately 250 workers, for example.

Longer-term, and more broadly, the benefits of the Gateway concept will be felt for decades to come.

Not only will the Gateway concept connect the heart of downtown Reno with the heart of the university, it will provide a blueprint for future collaborations between the university, the city of Reno and regional agencies such as the RTC that will position our region for a more prosperous and dynamic future.

“What’s Up Downtown” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW typically authored by Alex Stettinski, executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership. This month’s column was written by DRP board member Heidi Gansert, a Republican state senator who works as external affairs manager for the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be reached for comment at Heidi.Gansert@sen.state.nv.us. Reach Alex for comment at astettinski@downtownreno.org