Greetings folks! Well today was an information packed CAC Meeting. Let's cut right to the chase:
1. Longs Drugs - On November 28 City Council will meet to discuss. Longs does not have liquor license yet. The issue over the gaming license is between the City attorney's office and Longs. The Redevelopment Agency has nothing to do with it as there is no redevelopment agreement. The Redevelopment Agency merely has the power to urge Longs to open. Residents downtown want it open. CAC recommends to Council…get the store open!
2. Priority Project Update:
Entertainment Core Retail - This project has essentially morphed into the retail component of the Baseball District. Herbert Simon and several retailers are bringing in first potential tenants to tour the area this week, tenants aren't being released but are ones we would instantly recognize. The bowling stadium will be a first primary focus, and although it wasn't mentioned in the meeting specifically, I believe this includes both the bottom floor retail in the existing building, as well as the unfinished portion south of Plaza Street. On First floor of Bowling Stadium would be outlet mall type project. They are also interested in retail with entertainment aspect, something like ESPN Game Zone that would be a family attraction.
Downtown Parking Garage: I have figured out who the City is partnering with to build a new parking structure downtown. I don't want to jeopardize it by saying it publicly, but if you look who has been buying up a few parcels there recently, it's not hard to piece together. The parking garage will be on 'west' side of Virginia, outside of the entertainment core.
Beautification: Facade Program - This week the folks working on the facade program will be meeting with Fernando Leal regarding his Virginia Street frontage of property in the pilot area, as well as the Fitz parking garage. Beyond that, they are finalizing the RFP for the architect.
Baseball Project: Administrator Update - All the land has been transferred. Everyone involved is in the design phase at this point, and assembling the land they need to for the retail. No major hiccups in the process at this point. Most of the energy is being focused on the retail side of the project. Mark Lewis mentioned there are 'great possibilities the developers are working hard to bring in' and then muttered something about a the possibility of a whole new level of retail. Retail will have as much if not bigger impact than the baseball stadium itself. Starting with national bowling stadium on ground floor, and RTC half block. Developers are bringing in chairman of one large retail chain today….showing them downtown. Although no specific names were released, he did say 'they are brands you would instantly recognize.' Mark Lewis is impressed with their goal to follow through on their retail agreement. Lewis was very very happy…could not wipe the smile off his face. By the end of the next couple of weeks, he expects some real successes to talk about. On a different note RDA will be entering into negotiations with a new non-gaming all-suites Hyatt Franchise going right across the street from the baseball stadium. The specific parcel wasn't mentioned, but I am guessing it's where the boarded up motel and Nevada Inn are, across from the fire station and next to the Waterfront Office Tower.
Administrator Update: Various Items:
Retrac corridor study - This is probably one of the most comprehensive studies and land use planning guides I have read in a long time. Definitely worth it's $500,000, particular if the City of Reno follows its suggestion. The Goal is to go to council before end of January early February.
Rehashing Fire Station relocation: Mark Lewis then talked briefly about the 2 temporary fire stations, and the increased cost. Overall, the 2 proposed fire stations will increase response time. In the end he felt the additional cost was fair to get the increased amount of service. He mentioned that it wouldn't be the first time he had to move a fire station, and typically it takes 3 to five years to completely move it, which includes construction of both the temporary station and the subsequent new station. He said never in his life has a project come together this fast, and something that should have taken 2 years to compile a deal this large was done in a couple of months. In retrospect, he mentioned 'of course we can say in hindsight when a hiccup like this occurs, that we wished we had 2 years to iron out the deal instead of 2 months.' but then mentioned a deal coming together this smoothly even with the cost increase to provide better coverage was unprecedented
Retrac Cover: RDA would really really like to get started on the cover. Lewis said they are getting close to finding the money needed for the project. The Phase 1 of the train trench cover will be back before Council in December for an action plan. By then they expect to fill gaps in funding for construction.
Savoy Motel; plan to break ground on grand entryway there by end of year. Lewis joked about the Savoy, 'This is a case of addition by subtraction.' A while back, I remember reading a document called the 'Gateway Master Plan' or something of the sort. In it were ideas such as wolves running across the Virginia St. Bridge, and also mentioned the Savoy property, with the prospect of a giant 50 foot tall Book as art or something of the sort to pay homage to UNR. I am not sure if that's still on the table as an idea, or if the concept has changed a bit, but using an entire parcel of land for gateway art is very progressive for a city these days, and I can't wait to see what they come up with.
10 North Virginia: The council was very ho-hum about his presentation, and were considering dropping the project altogether for a while, but John Pappas came forward and refused to let the project die, and asked for a chance to meet with the sub-committee, and then come back with a design more in line with what the Council envisions. A CAC Board Member spoke up and commended John for not giving up, and mentioned that he was a high caliber developer with an outstanding reputation, so I have no doubt he'll come back with something that the council wants.
Cabella's is opening November 16. Even if we get 1 million visitors a year,which is half of Cabella's projections, that is a 20% increase in tourists to the region. Most of the CAC agreed the local media and public are understating the value of Cabella's to the community.