Midtown Tour

by Mike Van Houten / Jan 15, 2012

On Saturday I had a chance to relax a bit, take a breather from work, and hang out in Midtown with a few friends. Below is a little photo tour of various projects and hotspots, so come on a virtual megatour with me and spend a day in the life of Midtown!


We start off with a couple of shots of the yet-unnamed Carter brother's project on Thoma and Center street. In the photo above you can see the finished sidewalk. This is looking west from Center Street to the alley and then Virginia Street in the background, with Thoma Street on the right side. This new curvy street is the private drive meandering through two different lots and will soon be the centerpiece of a retail complex of differently-designed structures totaling 17 or so, built out in phases.


New gutter and sidewalk being designed along Thoma for the project on Thoma and Virginia/Center.


The new Midtown project on Virginia/Thoma/Center looking south from Thoma Street.


This house is next to Sup and Aces Tattoo. I'm not sure what it is, but I love the rock bench in the front yard. This paint job and landscaping is fairly recent.


A peek inside the 'CoCo Boom building' on the corner of St. Lawrence and Virginia Street, across the street from Aces Tattoo. What used to be one single space is being walled off into several boutique-size commercial spaces, and a burger joint and juice bar and coffee house are rumored to be going in here. I've also heard a couple of spaces in the under-construction Thoma/Center/Virginia project are spoken for as well.


Another shot of one of the CoCoBoom building spaces being built out, at 701 South Virginia Street.


After some photo taking it was time for lunch at one of my fave Midtown locations, Sup.

Then it was off to PolyEsther's Costume Boutique to talk to seamstres Esther about some custom Burning Man attire for 2012. That's when I spotted this retro disco shirt, perfect for the next 70's-themed party.


Then we headed to Center Street, one block east of Virginia. This is a new spa, Lime, that opened in a new loft space at 895 South Center, built across from 8 On Center. The Crystal Springs water dispensary also moved over to this location, seen in the left of the photo above. Fresh artesian water located next to a day spa, sounds like a perfect match!


New windows on the brewery/restaurant/bar/artist lofts under construction on Center Street at 901 South Center. This former water bottling plant is becoming a brewery that will use the artesian well beneath it to produce yummy beer goodness. Also here will be a restaurant, bar and artists lofts. Yup, Midtown is getting lofts after all. It might not be Thoma Lofts, but who cares, it's even cooler, and it's adaptive reuse.


New windows on the brewery/restaurant/bar/artist lofts under construction on Center Street.


As evening fell upon us, it was time for some drinks at Reno Public House! Love the architecture in this neighborhood pub on St. Lawrence Ave. The light fixtures, including the one pictured above, features old-filament bulbs for a nostalgic feel.


Reno Public House's crowd is as diverse as the neighborhood it sits in...people from age 21 to 71 enjoyed the relaxing quiet atmosphere.


Last stop of the evening was the newly renovated Zephyr Lounge. A fire pit, bi-level seating, candlelit table tops and a 4-page beer menu is what greets you at the new Zephyr Lounge. If you have not been to this bar in the last month, you wouldn't recognize it from its dive bar days.

It was fun strolling around my neighborhood with friends, and I'm finding Midtown is becoming more enjoyable and walkable with each passing month.

Post your comments
  • January 15, 2012 - 10:57:58 AM

    Thanks for the Saturday tour. Things are looking good in Midtown and here's to hoping it can continue to build momentum and finally give Reno "the neighborhood" it's never, ever had.

  • January 15, 2012 - 11:00:47 AM

    I love living in Mid-town, and can't wait for all of the new venues to open...

  • January 17, 2012 - 9:24:16 AM

    This is what Reno really needs! If you look at big cities around the globe, they all have neighborhoods or "villages", each with their own unique charm and character. Sa n Francisco has places like the Haight, Castro, Sunset, and various others, each separate, but together making the City. New York is no different. Reno needs the same, and with the recent efforts made in both Midtown and Wells, we seem to be headed down that path.

  • January 17, 2012 - 3:14:44 PM

    I probably disagree with the host of this site about downtown, but I'm sure we both agree with midtown. This is how a free market system works. We don't need to raise taxes to build a 30K sq ft convention center on St Lawrence Street to attract locals and tourists to Midtown. We don't need Crate & Barrel and California Cheesecake Factory on Holcomb. We don't need STAR bonds that would allow Nordstrom to open on California Ave and not have to pay 75% of the sales tax. All these new businesses in Midtown are creating jobs and attracting people to Midtown and revitalizing the economy and making Midtown a great place to live and visit. I wish the people of Reno would realize this both natives and Cali's. If you want Midtown to be a mini-OC strip mall, big box, chain mecca, um, go home. For locals, you think chains in Reno mean Reno is finally being cosmo or metro, think again. The new trend in NYC, SF, PDX, and LA is small business, indie stores and restaurants. For those who argue, Midtown is just some hipster chique wannabe neighborhood, so long as local money is being spend on local businesses keeping locals employed, you can wear your tat sleeves, tight black jeans, handlebar moustaches, and ride your fixie all you want, you're welcome.

  • January 17, 2012 - 7:26:28 PM

    I'm pretty much onboard with Blake Crosby on this one in that despite having some personal association, past and present with various downtown Reno projects, I continually roll my eyes at the general ineptitude down there. It also pains me to see the Washoe area mortgage their future on BS projects like the Legends shopping center, Cabela's, CommRow, and ... the Aces Ballpark. What's been really impressive is local folks, small business owners, that work really hard to develop their own product and community because they have a real idea and that's what they're passionate about. You've got some good older, established businesses in the Midtown & CalAve area and a bunch of great up-and-comers as well. The one project in Midtown that really makes me cringe though is the Thoma project and the old Delmar/CoCo Boom building. The reason I cringe at these projects is because they're being developed by "old school" downtown Reno types that don't actually get community and neighborhood in an area thats best shot at making it longterm is rallying behind these basic ideas. These aren't "Carter brothers" projects, rather those are just the guys names on T.J. Day's money. This group has no vision and if they could they'd get a STAR bond in a heartbeat so they could put a Nordstroms in an area that could never support it and would have nothing to do with the area's synergy. Case in point, the current idea with Delmar/CoCo Boom is to get a coffee shop and a burger joint in there, when the area is doing well right now because Mark Trujillo opened Hub Coffee and kicked ass at it, while Ivan Fontana & Sadie Bonnett have done a great job with Midtown Eats doing good contemporary eats -- especially burgers. Right around the corner you've got the new Public House opened by Chris Costa that's been doing well. Midtown needs more of this with the redone Zephyr, hell even Shea's has cleaned up a little bit (scary thought). And the brewery on South Center headed by Art & Jamie from St. James Infirmary could be another great piece. IN other words, Midtown's where it's at!

  • January 19, 2012 - 1:51:32 PM

    Hi Sara Lee...it seems like their vision. Back before this project even broke ground, I met with them under the condition I didn't publish anything they showed me, and Bernie laid out the entire concept, including a video fly-through rendering they played on their laptop. I'm not sure who the developer is, but it's definitely their vision...a walkable retail corridor. If they stay true to their concept of offering retail space to local mom and pop businesses and below-market lease rates, then I think it only benefits the neighborhood...because it's competitive lease rates that fills spaces right now. They have already invested a crapload of money into refurbishing existing properties like Sup's new location, and Creme, which used to be a crackhouse, literally. I'm stoked about it all.

  • January 21, 2012 - 9:14:49 AM

    Yep yep, I'm also familiar with the presentation and such. What do you think separates this project from the strip mall that is half a block north on the west side of Virginia Street? Did they discuss with you who they were hoping to be their keystone tenant at the time, because it definitely was not "local mom and pop", nor would it have had any sort of appeal to the group of people that's currently creating and supporting the Midtown area. Also, when you speak of the Creme space being a crackhouse, literally, when are you talking? This space was rehabbed over 10+ years ago when it was Resurrection Records, then Chapterhouse Gallery, then the Reno Skate Shop. Did it fall into crackhouse status in short time before it became Creme?

  • January 21, 2012 - 10:59:15 PM

    What I am hoping will separate this from the strip mall up the street are some unique architectural elements...especially if the finished product looks like their fly-through they showed me. Better walkability, more of a presence on Virginia Street. They didn't tell me any specific tenants they were thinking of, but I do know they applied for permits for at least five grease traps. The spaces aren't that big, so not sure what you mean by anchor tenant.

  • January 22, 2012 - 10:44:47 AM

    Right, very unique ... did they mention their idea of hiring three different architecture firms to work on the project in three different phases? Say what? As for the "anchor tenant", their initial discussion was to woo a certain national retail clothing store away from another strip mall in Reno that caters to the 60 and over crowd. Just saying ... sometimes there's more going on than presentations and press releases in this town.

  • January 22, 2012 - 1:03:52 PM

    DT Dude, in keeping with a resolution to also comment on the positive, I want to thank you for the tour of Midtown. I discovered this area a few years ago and it is easily the most exciting and changing part of the town. The bars and restruants are excellent alternatives for the visitor tired of the casino fare. And some really cool shops. I will also add that the locals are welcoming of visitors from outside the area and appreciate the patronage. The bar staff at Chapel Tavern had some excellent reconditions. Please keep this place local (no chains), it's exactly what Reno needs.