What’s Up Downtown: Development going strong, key to recovery (Voices) | nnbw.com

What’s Up Downtown: Development going strong, key to recovery (Voices)

Alex Stettinski

What's Up Downtown

Alex Stettinski
Courtesy photo

RENO, Nev. — This pandemic will leave scars for a long time, no doubt, but there is a silver lining on the horizon. Development, which is so needed to rebuild a local and regional economy, is strong. Very strong.

Even though the infection rate and reported deaths in Northern Nevada have not been as high as in other areas in the U.S., our economy has been impacted quite the same.

The Downtown Reno Partnership’s Ambassadors have been working hard in partnership with the Reno Police to keep downtown managed. They have been educating people who have been downtown in recent weeks and connected our vulnerable population to services and shelter.

Our community is resilient and always has been. We are a strong united force and we will prevail. The first steps have been taken to slowly re-open our restaurants and retail, and the DRP’s marketing and economic development departments are working with our businesses on best practices to keep returning customers and employees safe.

But let us look at the bigger picture.

The current economic situation may scarily resemble the recession, but the details are quite different today. We will have to deal with the consequences of a multi-month-long lockdown for a while, but in the meantime, we can look at projects that are forging ahead. They show us an optimistic view of what downtown Reno can look like over the next few years when the pandemic has faded.

Here are just a few of the many projects, in various stages, which are moving forward as planned or with only a short delay. For a complete map, go to DowntownReno.org and look for our Downtown Development page (downtownreno.org/about-downtown-reno):

  • Reno City Center: CAI Investments will move forward with transforming the Harrah’s casino property into a mixed-use complex with 530 apartments, 150,000 square feet of office space and 78,500 square feet of retail (including a potential grocery store). Once this project is completed, it will significantly change downtown. The large plaza in front of Harrah’s will be transformed to public green space with open seating and pleasant landscape; it will be the urban life center that downtown has been craving for decades.
  • 223 Court Street: Also by CAI, the unnamed hotel project boasts 55,000 square feet of class A office space, upscale international boutique hotel with 265 rooms, and 45 branded residential units. The hotel will be the first ground-up, luxury hotel ever built in Reno; it will highlight the natural beauty of Wingfield Park; and finally utilize the blighted vacant dirt lot on Island Avenue.
  • Compass Point: Pacific Development’s project spanning nearly an entire block adjacent to Reno Vulcanizing Works will include 260 residential units, 355 parking spaces and 2,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor of Virginia and Fifth streets.
  • Canyon Flats: On Sixth Street between Virginia and Center streets, 158 units accommodating up to 508 students will transform this part of downtown — better connecting it to the University, which has been a goal for over a decade.
  • 611 Lake: Directly east of Canyon Flats across Center Street. This development will continue that momentum with 219 student housing units with 656 beds.
  • Tolles Development University Retail Center: A student-centric commercial project on 705 N Virginia, behind the Chevron gas station on Sierra Street and across from the Bank of America on Virginia Street, which may include Jimmy John’s, a coffee shop catering to students and another retail business geared towards the University community.
  • S3 Development’s Keystone Commons: A mixed-use project on Keystone and Fifth streets that will include 300 residential units, a bank, a coffee shop, retail, and more.
  • Pine Street Townhomes: A 1.6-acre development on many under-utilized and blighted parcels will include 49 attached family units and onsite parking across seven new buildings.
  • UNR Gateway Project: At the northern tip of downtown, the University has acquired all the land for the proposed Gateway Project that will include a new Life Sciences building, College of Business and a parking structure with a skyway bridge connecting to the path on Manzanita Lake. A new RTC Rapid transfer station is also part of this multi-block development project.

COVID-19 hasn’t destroyed the efforts, which were underway in downtown Reno before the virus arrived, and they are being picked up again quickly.

This is the biggest difference between the last recession and this pandemic: Even though we have a tough time ahead of us for businesses to get back on their feet, the future looks bright, with more developments in the pipeline than downtown Reno has experienced in decades.

And looking at the activities in Midtown, we have a lot to look forward to. In the meantime, let us support our smaller businesses and frequent them as much as possible.

“What’s Up Downtown” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Alex Stettinski, executive director of the Downtown Reno Partnership. Reach him for comment at astettinski@downtownreno.org.