Fitzgeralds Public Notice Sign

by Mike Van Houten / Feb 1, 2011

Check out what I found on Fitzgerald's when I went to get stamps downtown today. That will be an exciting meeting! Can't wait to see the staff reports.

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  • February 1, 2011 - 6:36:41 PM

    Hmmmmm interesting. Definitely ties into the adventure place thing.

  • February 1, 2011 - 6:53:19 PM

    "Far From Expected" is the current slogan I believe.

  • February 1, 2011 - 8:03:19 PM

    Oh right our wonderous RSCVA at work deciding how to market Reno. I would say this is far from expected too. God I really can't stand that slogan. Far from Expected. What happenned to West of Center? I look forward to something being open next to the arch again.

  • February 1, 2011 - 8:05:06 PM

    I think it is now "Far From Educated" as the official slogan.

  • February 1, 2011 - 10:07:08 PM

    What does (2) mean in lamens non government terms? Is that like a patio or something? That would be cool.

  • February 2, 2011 - 1:48:13 AM - - - Don't you think the Planning Commission ought to at least show a Friday, Feb 11 meeting at 5pm on its meeting schedule if they are posting an agenda item notice on the Fitz?

  • February 2, 2011 - 7:29:11 AM

    An economic feasibility consultant's research report on who might be among the patron group for this type of amusement would be interesting reading. The few rock climbing people I have known have all been athletic, outdoor-active, granola crunchers who hike, climb mountains and camp. In my experience, they are hardly the group which would patronize hotel restaurants or rent hotel rooms in a downtown core of a city, unless those rooms were very modestly priced and could entice those people out of campgrounds and RVs. This will probably be a big hit with whitewater kayaking enthusiasts, mountain climbers and trail hikers; however, I question whether those types are inclined to spend much money in restaurants and downtown hotels. I wish the project success, and I hope that it is not a step in an uneconomic direction.

  • February 2, 2011 - 7:41:01 AM

    Interesting questions, Irv. We do know this without an economic impact study: the current demographic of tourists that are visiting downtown Reno are not spending money in restaurants or high end hotel rooms. I'm sure there must have been an economic study done somewhere that said they would at some point in time. Perhaps it's time we try attracting other types of market sectors. I'm going to reserve judgement until details of the plans are revealed to the public.

  • February 2, 2011 - 9:18:37 AM

    We all know gaming and gambling isn't working. I bet it is going on the train trench cover plaza.

  • February 3, 2011 - 8:37:36 AM

    Exciting stuff! This town needs a boost.

  • February 3, 2011 - 11:20:48 AM

    Is there anything like an architectural drawing or artistic rendition so we can have an idea of how this would look on the structure? Also, the (2) means it's item 2 (item 1 being the special use permit).

  • February 4, 2011 - 10:40:21 AM

    Having seen the plans for the wall, let me say, it is an amazing concept. The early renditions called for a ZIP line from somewhere at the Eldorado to the's a definite draw for the area should it get built.

  • February 4, 2011 - 11:42:28 AM

    It isn't posted yet, but the Planning Staff Report for the SUP should be online a couple days before the 11 Feb meeting. It will have drawings, so check out the Planning Department link on Reno's web site. On the Community Development Department's site, you can go to the Virtual Permit Place and check out the progress of the permits: BLD11-00472 for interior demolition, BLD11-02928 for the wall, and LDC11-00046 for the SUP. Also on CDs site, you can check out the weekly Permit Reports to see when additional building permits are applied for.

  • February 5, 2011 - 2:44:32 AM

    Blurb from KOLO -

  • February 5, 2011 - 9:28:09 AM

    Thanks renosteve for the link. I retain my opinion of Fernando Leal. What a bad, bad idea! Not to mention a terrible name for the place. It will amaze me if Reno allows this kind of blundery to happen in it's downtown core. Well, maybe not amaze me, more disgust. Hopefully at least after the failure of this project, and it will fail miserably, the property will be once again for sale and someone with real vision can get ahold of it.

  • February 5, 2011 - 9:46:45 AM

    Whatever Old Johnny. Gaming in this town is dead. Have a better idea for the building? Yeah didn't think so. Wake up and smell the reality. I love this idea.

  • February 5, 2011 - 9:58:31 AM

    Typical response of a Reno resident. Attack something that is different and unique that could draw thousands to Reno. I guess OldJohnny's vision of downtown is a bunch of old smoky casinos that sit empty, much like Harrah's and Silver Legacy's do right now. You can't really be this stupid can you? Do you read reports on gaming revenues? Building the world's tallest rock climbing wall is exactly the kind of vision and change downtown needs.

  • February 5, 2011 - 10:10:28 AM

    Perfect.......Leal is a true visionary. Doggie day care? Indoor boulder park? Large climbing wall? Comm Row? Or maybe the real draw are the heathy choice restaurants! Does Leal have some sort of drug problem or medical condition that prohibits him from thinking clearly? I want what he's drinking and lots of it.

  • February 5, 2011 - 10:23:22 AM

    Yo! Let's not call anyone stupid on this site, or any other names. Everyone has a right to an opinion this is America. I have to agree with the above commenters on this one. Opening a casino in this economy, in this city, would be suicide oldjohnny. Opening a casino in VEGAS right now would be suicide, much less Reno. What else do you propose to do with the building? We know condos won't work. I suppose we can just leave it dark? Yeah that says a lot to the 4 million tourists who still come here. Google 'World's tallest rock climbing wall' and look at how many travel magazines have done a story on the current world's tallest...which is in the middle of nowhere in northern Europe. You don't think that kind of exposure would be good for Reno? If it is such a bad idea then why do the casino execs of every major casino downtown support it? Go ask the Caranos how their casino is doing, compared to booking room nights for special events. Ask them how they feel about Fernando's project, or go ask the GM of Harrah's, who also supports excited they are it will give their guests something to do besides be afraid of downtown Reno. Reno's old casino strip is never, ever coming back, it just isn't. 35 states now offer gaming, including most of our neighbors. What would fail miserably is reopening it as a casino. No one will buy the Fitz...How do you know Fernando didn't try selling it already? Shows your narrow scope of knowledge about the whole situation.

  • February 5, 2011 - 10:47:32 AM

    For those who don't know the full aspect of this project yet don't bash it! Consider the economy today, Leal deserves praise for bringing something new to the marketplace provided it will bring life to a dead building, who wants to see that building sit there dark like that? I assume if you do, you don't care about your community at all and whats the point of even voicing your opinion if you don't care? This is the kind of project Reno needs if it wants to survive, gaming is NOT the answer anymore. It is a risk, but it is a risk this town needs to take and I cheer Fernando and his team on with this project and wish them and the project nothing but the greatest of success!

  • February 5, 2011 - 10:59:15 AM

    I can't understand how some people can be so negative. Where has that type of attitude gotten you...oh yeah, no where. If Reno is so bad, leave. Don't just sit at home doing nothing but lamenting on the "old days". There are visionaries out there actually trying to DO something. Anything is better than having the place dark. That's what's great about our country, you have the opportunities to live out your dreams, your visions. If it doesn't work then you move on, big deal. At least he is willing to DO something.....God forbid it actually be successful...imagine that... oohh...ahhh “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” John M. Richardson, Jr. quotes

  • February 5, 2011 - 11:00:58 AM

    4 million tourists pass through downtown Reno a year? Where exactly did you get that number? If that number was even remotely true we would not be discussing what to do with Fitzgeralds.

  • February 5, 2011 - 11:12:40 AM this says 5.1 million for 2007. Factoring the percentage drop in tourism since then, 4 million is about right, maybe a little less. Our gaming revenue numbers for Washoe County have fallen much faster than our visitor count. This is probably why new casinos aren't opening.

  • February 5, 2011 - 11:28:59 AM

    Ok so I am uncaring about my community, stupid, and have a narrow scope of knowledge about the situation? Perhaps I am all of those things. My first point would be that Fitz is dark because Nando made it that way, laying off 400 plus employees. Secondly. Business plan here. Rock climbing in Reno, how many months out of the year will this bring revenue? The insurance premiums alone will suck up alot of dough. Rooms? how much can they be rented for when you can get a NICE room for under $60.00 just about anywhere in town. Doggie Day Care? Indoor Boulders? Healthy Restaurants? None of those sound very profitable. Small concerts? Events? Yes some money from those. Enough? My crystal ball is unsure. I'm sure the local Casino operators approve. Any non gaming attraction will bring them revenue. If I were them I would be waiving Nando flags in a parade! My scope is narrow, Mike. I agree. I am not employed by Nando and don't have access to the information you and others do. I get my info from sites like yours. But I do care about the city and what happens in it. Do I think his idea will attract attention to Reno? Yes, I do.Do I hope I am wrong about the dismal failure I am predicting? Yes, I do. I truly hope you optomistic folk will be pointing and laughing at me and my silly posts in a year. Until then, I stand by my prediction this is a bad idea. And I hate the name.

  • February 5, 2011 - 12:20:32 PM

    OldJohnny, I am merely guessing based on the SURROUNDING properties that Leal owns in addition to the Fitz, but I suspect the project name "might" be an attempt to tie a number of individual buildings into a larger concept. I guess we will get some indication when the documents are released. From the little we know, the project sounds risky. But, unlike other downtown projects this one seems targeted at the nearby university population which "might" be a stroke of brilliance if its done properly. The city needs all the help it can get right now and renovating that building (or buildings?) will certainly help IMO.

  • February 5, 2011 - 12:31:42 PM

    oldjohnny, I doubt you are stupid, and I stand by my first point that this is America, and as long as no one is slandering each other, I step out of the way and let people comment on whatever. If you didn't care about the community you probably would not be a fan of this web site. Just because someone predicts a project will fail doesn't make them less caring about the community. Regarding the rooms, I bet there's a demand downtown for non smoking pet friendly rooms that aren't part of a casino complex. Foreign dignitaries that visit UNR's Judicial Program cannot stay in a hotel connected to a casino, so they have to stay all the way in South Reno. That's just one example. To climb 197 feet, in an urban setting, is a rush that could draw people from around the world, much like the wall in Netherlands draws climbers from around the world to 'conquer' it. Same with the Silos in Texas.

  • February 5, 2011 - 4:00:57 PM

    I live in Portland Oregon and come 2 Reno at least twice a year. I love the town and the area but to be honest I would not visit without the gaming. That's the draw downtown, you like it or not. The casinos are all in for ANYTHING that brings traffic by their doors without any expense on their part. So yeah, I bet they love Nandos plan. If The Fitz were mine I'd make it a combination of hip, high end bowling lanes, huge sports brew pub, adult video arcade and gaming next door in the old Primadonna. Music could be good as well. Keep the Fitz name and signage, do something retro with the Primadonna signage. That would please the Old School Folks and create a draw for another demographic downtown as well. And make everything but the gaming portion non smoking. That's my plan, since reopening the Fitz seems to be off the table. BigAls up here is very popular, as well as Ground Kontrol for video games. Check 'em out. Thanks DTMDude for the great site you have here. You are doing the area a great service, even if you do like Nando and his plan too much for my taste! :^)

  • February 5, 2011 - 4:51:05 PM

    Whoever said the Downtown casinos are dead are dead WRONG. I'm down there almost every weekend and the casinos are always packed, with people of every kind from late night party goers to middle aged folks! It's the business itself that cannot sustain Reno any longer, it's not what it once was but don't count it out as dead here. It's funny, every major mover and shaker in this community is cheering the project on, the Caranos of the Eldorado/Silver Legacy, Peppermill, Atlantis. It's a shame that some local people of this community can't get behind it for some reason..

  • February 6, 2011 - 12:36:39 AM

    4 million tourists a year means that 4380 unique (as in never been here this year and counted only once each year) tourists arrive in this city every day for 365 days of the year. Frankly, this is not likely, no different than the 800,000 attendance figure for Hot August Nights, which would exceed the first tier hotel capacity of Reno/Sparks during the event by a factor of 10. These numbers are all baloney, but I do wish the new Fitzgerald's project well. It will need all the good luck it can get.

  • February 7, 2011 - 6:05:56 PM

    There were lots of naysayers about the whitewater park, too. There's a name for those like old johnny - CAVE people. Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

  • February 7, 2011 - 8:30:45 PM

    There's a name for people that "pile on" via the anonymity of the internet as well, Infinity. And there is also a name for people that follow someone over a cliff. Old Johnny has his opinion but I have not seen him be rude or insulting. I agree with Old Johnny concerning Leal's ability to be a "Rainmaker". The Montage was a disaster, and that was Leals baby all the way. Now his sights are set on the Fitz. How much Revenue is a climbing wall going to generate? How about the Hotel portion? I worked for Hilton for a number of years and I assure you that going up against $15.00 a night rooms that Harrahs gives it entry level club card members will be tough. You'd be lucky to make this type of thing go in Seattle, San Fran, Portland, etc. But Downtown Reno? In this economy? I am happy that SOMETHING is being done but I suspect this is more of a Hail Mary by Leal than anything else. I hope I am wrong, I really do. Flame away...I can take it!

  • February 7, 2011 - 10:32:34 PM

    No one is piling anything on, I would say the comments on here are pretty varied. You are less anonymous than you think, I collect ip addresses and can tell when a commenter posts under different names, and to my knowledge no one is following anyone off a cliff. I dont think OldJohnny falls into the C.A.V.E category. Exactly how was the Montage a disaster for downtown? It turned an aging doomed casino into an incredible building that will be around for decades, much like Arlington Towers. Everyone who lives there loves it, I know about ten of the 87 residents personally. They continue to sell units all cash-only. It is putting more people downtown and is by far the most asked-about residential complex on my site. Other than his original asking prices what was a disaster about it? The project was lien free, meaning Leal had no outstanding payments to make to anyone, show me another project in towm that failed with that track record? Now Starwood is rumored to be gearing up for another sales push on the building, possibly with financing. Oh and he didnt use a dime of public financing like TIF or STAR bnds. I can think of far worse disasters downtown. I bet you havent bothered to ask the residents that live there what they think of it. In fact I bet you havent even stepped foot in the Montage. So I would hardly call it a disaster.

  • February 7, 2011 - 10:46:02 PM

    Also its not just a climbing wall it's also a world class 7,000 sf indoor boulder park, and if you are wondering about revenue I suggest you ask Rocksport, who will be running the climbing wall and indoor park...they have operated a successful profitable indoor climbing park in Sparks for 17 years now. Perhaps you just lack a knowledge of the sport and its popularity. Given the number of complaints about smoke I receive regarding downtown casinos I think you'll find a demand for a non smoking pet friendly hotel. You guys act like no research went into this idea at all and its something one dude just haphazardly came up with.

  • February 7, 2011 - 11:05:48 PM

    One last thing AKB...what do you like about Reno so much that prompts you to come here to gamble over some of the Indian Casinos in California? Just curious... I don't think gaming is dead in Reno, just scaled back a bit, as evidenced by the 20+ casinos that have closed down. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my site, even if we disagree at times.

  • February 7, 2011 - 11:42:50 PM

    1st thing...rooms at Harrahs are not smokey. Nor are the rooms at The Siena or Eldo. 2nd....60% of the Montage is owned by the FDIC which also provided zero interest financing to Starwood. Am I incorrect about that? So where does the FDIC get its money? And the whole reason for that mess is greed, pure and simple and not just by people like Leal but right down to the mortgage brokers, agents and buyers. I am sure the buyers are happy as well with the building but with a 55% drop in equity? I know they have to put a positive spin on their purchase, but what baffles me is why so many others still believe that Leals vision is sound. In any event what's done is done and I do agree that in the long term The Montage is a good thing. My "disaster" term was ill used, I agree. But it to call it a success is a bit far reaching considering the economic problems projects like this have caused and I have little fondness or faith for folks like Leal that were at the heart of this. As far as the outdoors thing I have grown up in the Pacific NW...I've hiked the Columbia Gorge extensively, I mountain bike in Central Oregon every year and I've seen the lava dome in Saint Helens from the crater rim. But this plan in Reno? Not sure I see how this pencils out or who is going to come here for it. Not the tree hugging-wind surfing-mountain biking-Smith Rock climbing-granola munching guys I know. Climbing wall? Not for me but bring it on! Boulder Park? OK...I guess. I can only hope that the planning, timing and research that went into this are better than The Montage. And BTW, I'm one of those 40 something putzs that come to Reno 2 times a year and gamble. I eat at the restaurants around downtown, I occasionaly do the museum and I like to support the local shops outside the casinos. In fact I'll be back in March and am excited to see the progress, if any! And no matter what.... Comm Row as a name sucks. :^) Just my .02!

  • February 8, 2011 - 2:18:32 PM

    Downtown Dude, I wanted to reply to your question to AKB about why come to Reno to gamble rather than the California Indian casinos. Being from California, I can tell you that while we have Indian casinos everywhere, most are not that great. And compared to Nevada casinos, the slots tend to be significantly tighter. We may have a few that are comparable to a better Reno casino in size and features, but the vast majority have the feel of a smoke filled converted warehouse. Plus there is no groupings of Indian casinos. So you cant just cross the street or drive 5 minutes to try your luck somewhere else. That is, and has been, the draw for Reno for me for the 20+ years my wife and I have been making 2-4 trips a year. We evenly split our time and money between all the casinos. That is what makes Reno fun for us anyway. It is a destination with multiple options and it is not Vegas, which is a little overdone for our style. Plus the entertainment and shopping are a draw for us. It is not the best in the world but it keeps us occupied for a couple weeks a year. So we will continue to come over to Reno as long as there is that selection. We even hope to eventually buy a second home there. Hopefully we can get in before the housing prices start going up. Ive really enjoyed your site for the past couple years. Your enthusiasm and optimism are refreshing and the information is very helpful. Keep up the good work. I personally like the Fitz conversion. I would try the climbing wall even though that is not my thing. As long as there are safety people there to keep me from breaking my neck. A glass enclosure to make it bad weather friendly might be a good idea.

  • February 9, 2011 - 12:39:51 PM

    AKB you and I should meet for drinks! We are definately of a similar midset regarding Leal and his projects. While I wouldn't call the entire Montage project a disaster, financially for Leal, Corus Bank and others, it was just that. Although people living there say they are happy with it, I think they also have very few options for moving out. With new units still available for cash only purchase I cannot see how anyone there could sell easily, let alone recoup anything close to their initial investments. As for the Fitz, I am told there will be less high end overbuilding, which makes me think Nando has done some more thinking about this project. Glad to see that. The entire Comm Row concept is not something I would ever utilize nor would anyone I know, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a group of people that won't be enthused about trying it. I really don't like to lose the retro signage and lighting that are on both the Fitz and Primadonna/Golden Phoenix fronts, as I think they are a big part of the feeling a person gets when they drive down Virginia. I think it is important to build to the area, not try to change the area to the new project, which is what Leal tried with Montage. I also question the profitability of this entire venture, luckily it's not my dollars that are being gambled here. I do actually hope this succeeds, as I hate losing the icon that is the Fitz. California Mike has a good grasp of what brings gamblers to this town. Indian casinos are great for their locations, but for gamblers they lose their excitement rapidly, and I actually predict more people coming to Reno to gamble as they tire of the ripoff Indian places. He's also got a decent idea with the glass enclosure. Lastly, after days of contemplation, I STILL hate the name Comm Row.

  • February 10, 2011 - 1:02:55 PM

    Quite a few interesting comments on CommRow's new facebook page. Worth a glance -

  • February 10, 2011 - 1:07:51 PM

    Link to recent rgj article -