Greetings folks! It's time for another massive Citizens Advisory Committee meeting update. Aside from being an information-packed meeting, several interesting things happened. First, it was a very packed meeting! With more citizens than ever. That's great to see. Second, I met one of my tipsters in person at the meeting, that's always fun. So let's get started!
1. Baseball Stadium
Demo work is wrapping up, and a general contractor has been appointed, DefCon (I think that's the name it was said very quickly). The rear section of the Freight House has been totally demo'd now. The next big on-site activity this week will be relocation of very large power lines that go through middle of outfield. Shortly thereafter there major ground excavation will begin as the 'bowl is dug out over the next 4 weeks. They hope to have concrete poured within the next 10 weeks. Mark is happy about the progress thus far and mentioned the complexity of the del, with over 12 interlocking agreements active. Our baseball team's official web site is up now. Over 1200 season tickets have already been reserved on the web site, and that's with little-to-no marketing or announcement that tickets are now available. The baseball folks will be unveiling major ad campaign soon to sell more tickets, and will be naming the team within the next 3 weeks. Play ball in 09!
2. Entertainment Core Retail - Completed work with RTC for current City Center parcel on Plaza Street/Center Street, and an agreement and concept for purchase of RTC will be going to respective bodies for approval on next agenda. Still struggling with funding issues on this project. RSCVA agreement is still in negotiation for the Bowling Stadium retail. Lewis didn't mention the status of bringing/touring additional retailers for these spaces.
3. Downtown Parking - Not much new to report here. For those that aren't familiar I'll rehash - RDA has a commitment to build two parking structures downtown, one of the East side of Virginia Street and one on the West Side of Virginia Street. On the East Side, the City has been in negotiations for a while now with a private casino/hotel owner downtown to create a joint venture to build the East Garage, while the West Garage is still in site-securement stage. Regarding the East garage, they with yet unnamed potential partner (I am guessing Eldorado), everyone is getting more comfortable with the concepts and numbers involved with this deal.
4. Beautification - Many of the beautification projects are now complete, including the pilot lighting program for the block of Virginia between Mt. Rose and Pueblo down by Stremmel Gallery, and also the cool looking bike racks and traffic box painting you've seen around downtown. The negatoid commenters over at RGJ can trash bash downtown all they want, but the bottom line is artfully decorated traffic boxes look far more appealing than graffiti 'd green traffic boxes. I'd like to see the City incorporate a photo-scavanger hunt of sorts for kids this summer, having to find and locate al the decorated traffic boxes and bart around downtown. That would be great field trip exercise for Art Class!
Façade Improvement Program - went to HIstoric Resources Commission for input, looking at historic photos, incorporating historic elements back into each property. RDA is meeting with owner on 2nd and Virginia today to discuss his building.
Gateway Art project has gone through Art and Review project and getting ready to go to contract with artist. This is where Savoy Motel was on Virginia and 7th.
5. 10 North Virginia Street - Hey this project is still alive! At least the retail building part is. This developer (the final out of the three that submitted bids) REALLY wants to fulfill his vision of this property, as he has been working hard to redesign the building to something more architecturally pleasing. If you recall, this developer was asked by the Council to refine his designs into something not quite so blocky. It's rumored he has Garwoods from Tahoe as the main tenant going in this building. The developer has finalized architectural redesign and should be before RDA and CAC before next month's meeting.
6. Post Office - Interior Retail Portion - The Post Office found a site they like for their new downtown post office, however RDA is looking at alternate sites just in case preferred site doesn’t work out. They don't want to throw all their eggs into one basket, which is probably smart. RDA will need to extend the memorandum agreement with the Post Office, as they are not at same pace they would like but still moving forward. Lewis is 'pretty confident'. Land Acquisitions issues for the new site are the big issue with this project.
7. Post Office Plaza - Being treated as the same project as #6 but as a separate element, the Post Office Plaza will go under construction long before the interior retail portion does, or at least that was the plan in the last few CAC meetings. No deadlines were discussed at this particular meeting because it was ALL about the two new designs CH2MHill came up with. This update for the plaza is a bit long so bear with me, and I will get renderings of the two options discussed below as soon as I can. Luckily, I know people at CH2MHill and will see if they'll be willing to release the renderings a bit early to me.
You can see the old rendering from last year below. THIS HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED AFTER PUBLIC INPUT AND COMMENT.
Additional input from residents/officials revealed based on the old design above, they wanted: More graceful pedestrian access, consider forms and shapes of plaza that might tie more into post office building, another comment was to soften plaza design a bit, provide larger outdoor dining terrace, design lower levels to integrate with future whitewater park extension, minimize impact to river, enhance fish habitat to river. Asked to provide larger shade trees at the plaza.
So CH2MHILL presented tow new concepts:
Design 1: Geometric Classic Option - inspired by geometric patterns of the building. The central terraces follow that form with elevated design terraces in geometric shapes instead of slightly bowed like in the image above. In the Geometric Classic Option, the zig-zag walkways pictured to the right in the pic above integrate more with the central terrace portion rather than being off to one side. Also, landscaped terraces now intermingle with the pedestrian terraces to provide trees, shade, rock gardens etc. A series of ledges extend form the steps down to river to offset the terraces, breaking up the stiff pattern of last years design. A floating pier was added, plus boulders extending into the river.
Design 2: River Terrace Option: The distinction of this one than previous one is center portion of the design is more curvilinear, providing more flowing forms to the river. This option has more generous walkways, with no dedicated terraces devoted to landscaping like the others but instead the landscaping is dispersed throughout. In this option, a good portion of the terraces down actually form in an amphitheater pattern rather than linear. Less terraces in this option, and instead provides for two large walkways down to the river that circle around a dining terrace.
In looking at the two designs, CH2MHill prefers the River Terrace one better while I like the Geometric Classic layout, but it provides for more shade trees. Once I get renderings of the two options, you can bet it will be a poll question! Trust me though, both designs are a 300% improvement over the design pictured above.
8. RETRAC Cover Phase 1 - The City is finalizing land dedications from property owners this month. Construction drawings have been submitted to Union Pacific for their input/approval, and their comments come back at end of week. Construction should begin at the end of month, and the main construction girders will be arriving in June.
9. Community Assistance Center - Will be done in August/September. Focusing attention on operational budgets, processes etc.
10. Riverside Market! - That's right. our downtown year-round urban market has a name now. Riverside Market. Not only does it have a new name, I have new renderings below Fresh off the CAD computer! I REALLY like the direction they are taking this project. They are taking it in a modern direction while respecting and renovating the 3 historic brick buildings the project involves.
Funding has been released - The lease agreement with property owner (same person who owns Riverwalk Towers) is done and that’s signed. Demolition should begin early this coming week. Pavers for the central courtyard have been generously donated by an unnamed person (unnamed in the meeting anyway). That's really cool the community is pulling together for this! Lewis mentioned they are lining up great set of tenants, a couple long time 'local' restaurants will have second venues there, lots of prepared food, flowers fish meats, local artisans, typical farmer fare stuff too. Lewis mentioned my recent poll regarding prospective tenants, and said it helped them a bit gauge what the public is feeling (that was my goal). They will be signing tenants this week so look for announcements soon. Econet radio station will play active role in promoting market. Apparently from the way Lewis spoke, not only will there be 19 or so permanent tenants but the market will have different 'events' or 'markets'. One of the 2 markets rolling out in July will be an eco-market.
The indoor part of market will be complete in September/October….each indoor tenant will have their own tenant improvement programs. Outdoor market will open in July with 2 outdoor markets (not sure what they mean by this?) and the courtyard and a larger Saturday farmer's market. Lewis gave props to some RDA employees; Karen Craig and Jessica Jones have been burning the midnight oil on this project. Jennifer Bushman has been hired to consult with the food aspect of the market and to consult in brining in tenants. Nice! Jennifer will be a busy woman, as she is also involved with the Nevada Discovery Museum and a possible 'Kid's Kitchen' area.
So that's it for the update! There was a presentation on the city's Historic Plan too, but I will save that for a different post since I want to go off on a little rant about that.
Also, Grand Sierra Resort was briefly mentioned and discussed because a resident asked about the indoor waterpark. The unofficial answer in essence he got was 'they are broke and no one knows when they will reach that stage of their development, although it's still on the table.'