by Mike Van Houten / Feb 6, 2011

So it looks like the secret is out! Channel 8 beat me to the punch, and is reporting about CommRow, the new project that will be launched in the former Fitzgerald's property. They found out the info from somehow getting hold of city documents, presumably the Planning Commission staff report. I was waiting for the meeting docs to get posted to put the info on here, but never thought of actually requesting them from the city. Smart move, Terri!

One thing I love about Facebook, is that it's almost a necessity for any business to do. I poked around on Facebook, typed the name in, and found a business page for CommRow!

It has all sorts of images, check them out below. From what I can tell the exterior of the building is remaining pretty much the same except for a giant climbing wall going up the side of the building! Looks like all those green vertical neon pillars will be blue, or blue green, and exterior decks on both sides of the building. The rendering below shows the marquees on the building still, with two new exterior decks extending out over the sidewalks. This could really breathe some new life into the area around the arch.

The info section of their fan page says 'The first phase of this proposed development will transform the former Fitzgerald Hotel and Casino into a non-gaming, non-smoking, pet friendly, no frills chic hotel. Renamed CommRow, the 60,000 square foot complex will feature the world's tallest climbing wall, a world-class 7,000 square foot indoor bouldering park, two live entertainment venues and eleven high designed food and beverage vignettes."

The one pic of the wall below looks INSANE, with the wall actually going beyond vertical as it acends up the side of the tower. Keep in mind, renderings are just renderings, but at the same point in time the Montage turned out looking exactly like it looked in the renderings.


Post your comments
  • February 7, 2011 - 5:49:25 PM

    More revelations -

  • February 7, 2011 - 6:55:58 PM

    I also like seeing the sporting goods store where the golden phoenix is. It would be awesome if this can revitalize the area around the arch. This would also be great as it would bring more locals downtown I would guess.

  • February 7, 2011 - 8:28:24 PM

    I LOVE this idea! It will fit perfectly with the white water park. I can't wait to be walking down the strip seeing people climbing hundreds of feet above the street. But as interesting and creative an idea it is, the name is horrendous - I thought it was going to be a collection of offices. I'm guessing it will change though, it's just too terrible a name for it to stay.

  • February 7, 2011 - 10:34:03 PM

    CommRow is perfectly acceptable, it's different to hear and that's why instinctively you would reject it but give it some time, it will flow. There really is nothing else they could name it, Fitz and Fitzgerald(s) are trademarked. They could name it the Reno, wait that's pretty bad...

  • February 8, 2011 - 4:33:37 PM

    I like the concept for CommRow. My husband and I are senior citizens with a second home in downtown Reno. No way we will climb the wall, just like we do not raft in the river, But - we enjoy the lights and the people. It will good to see activity in downtown, we like people having fun even if we are just watching. More people mean more businesses will come and all benefit, even us non-climbers.

  • February 9, 2011 - 4:45:09 PM

    That's funny somedude, the 'novelty' of climbing rocks in Sparks has lasted over 17 years with Rocksport. Go back over to the RGJ comments section where you belong.

  • February 9, 2011 - 7:50:02 PM

    That's great to draw more people to down town if their first impression isn't their last. Just a few blocks up and you can see several boarded up buildings with chain link fence around them. For goodness sake can't the city spend a few hundred dollars on paint or temporarily employ some unemployed construction workers to bulldoze those buildings down. Every time I have friends come to town they mention how dumpy down town is.

  • February 9, 2011 - 10:02:29 PM

    Alright you C.A.V.E's if you have nothing positive to say than don't say it. The last thing we need is negative, no knowledge based opinions bringing this thing down.

  • February 10, 2011 - 9:02:45 AM

    This is an exciting project! FYI - Vacanct downtown buildings are private property. The most a jurisdiction can due is enforce existing nuisance laws (graffiti/weeds/trash). Then again, $500 fines are a drop in the bucket for out of state corporate land holding companies with a 20 year buy hold vision... they just don't care unless it's going to make or cost them significant money. Best thing for downtown is to create synergy for the existing properties to make investment worthwhile. I remember the same negative comments about the river park too. I don't kayak... but I'm there every summer weekend with my family. I do rock climb and am excited about the opportunity as are many of my Sacramento and Bay Area friends (that do have money by the way... certainly more than blue haired old ladies gambling their Social Security checks), who are actually excited about visiting me in Reno for once. Scepticism is fine... but let's keep an open mind and support anyone willing to invest millions in our downtown in this economic climate.

  • February 11, 2011 - 10:38:19 AM

    the exterior wall is awesome. what is a bouldering park? is a bouldering park a big attraction?

  • February 13, 2011 - 12:52:43 PM


  • February 13, 2011 - 1:46:06 PM

    Wow, are you guys serious? The downtown does have a lot of crappy boarded up properties and a noticeable lack of color and good architecture but the city CANNOT instantly change over night! Commrow (hopefully the name changes) is a huge step in the right direction. Gaming is NOT what it used to be here. 28 states in the US have casinos now so for Reno to cling to the idea that it can significantly increase tourism purely through gaming is ridiculous. A downtown revitalization isn't going to happen overnight but one less boarded up building means one step closer to downtown becoming a desirable tourist destination again. And as long as it doesn't end up too tacky looking, I think Commrow and its climbing wall is a great idea.

  • February 16, 2011 - 4:34:24 PM

    I can't wait to see how with nearly a half million in delinquent payments to the city for the Fitz Parking structure Leal is going to make this fly. The more I look at how this mess is structured the more nauseated I become with Leal. This guy is trouble with a capital T and someone will be left with a huge mess when this is said and done. And it won't be Nando.

  • February 16, 2011 - 6:40:40 PM

    AKB, the more I read your comments the more nauseated I am at you. How do you know the City and Leal aren't in negotiations in the background to buy the land under the garage and the back rent? You don't know, you're just another negatoid spouting off at the mouth about things you know nothing about. Of all of the developers, Leal is one who didn't use a dime of public money to build anything. The fact is, you don't know all the facts. How is he trouble when he built the Montage exactly to his original concept? And people continue to move in? That building is tits compared to what it was before. Go be a negatoid somewhere else.

  • February 16, 2011 - 6:59:44 PM

    I don't care about the $500,000 he owes in back rent. That will probably be settled with the sale of the land to him from the bank. This project's economic benefit to downtown far exceeds a little squabble over back rent on land the city originally condemned and took away from the previous Fitzgerald's owner in the first place for the ReTRAC project. Maybe the City of Reno shouldn't have took out bonds against a parking garage land lease to build a ballroom that is rarely used. Then the back rent wouldn't be an issue at all. Compared to the SK Baseball deal, which when you add up how much they will receive in property tax and rental car tax subsidies equals more than what it cost to build the stadium, I agree with Paul, you are way off base on your criticisms of Leal, compared to the shady deals of other developers in town. He built a fantastic residential tower downtown that was an unfortunate victim of the housing crash, and it did not cost you a dime of money, employed hundreds of construction workers, and laayed a foundation for future residents to come downtown. He has a seemingly solid concept for the Fitz, so I say build it!

  • February 16, 2011 - 7:04:23 PM

    The misinformation on CommRow is already getting out of hand, and I wish Leal would speak out. Cashell Jr. is NOT involved with the project anymore. There is NO public subsidy from the City. The Garage Lease and CommRow are technically separate issues and entities. There is a pretty interesting write up about the history and issues at What do you think?

  • February 16, 2011 - 8:55:03 PM

    LOL! Easy's only the internet. You'll stroke out getting so worked up. I seem to recall that Leal cost 400 plus jobs by closing the Fitz. I wonder how those folks feel about him? The Montage is a nice building but I as a taxpayer don't feel I should have to pick up Leals failed financial dealings.'s been bailed out with Federal TARP money. That makes it a TROUBLED asset, but not Leals troubled asset anymore. How do think things would have turned out for the Montage had that not happened? So Reno gets a nice building, Leal starts another "plan" at the Fitz and the taxpayers pick up the financial pieces of the Montage. Every one of these speculators(and that is what Leal is) should be accountable for this stuff. But they aren't. They hide behind LLCs, TARP money and technicalities. It's a world where bankruptcy is used to "restructure" and word smithing rules the day. To say he was a victim is laughable, he was simply one of many developers that got caught with their pants down with the inevitable bursting of the bubble. And I'm sure Leal will strike a deal with the city and exchange some worthless albatross for his back rent. Anyway, good luck with that climbing wall and with Leal. Despite my skepticism over Leal and his projects I truly hope the best for Reno. I have many years of fond memories and Leal can't build a climbing wall on those.

  • February 17, 2011 - 10:25:57 AM

    AKB is a realist, and brings up very valid points. There seem to be alot of ooohs and aahs about this project, everyone seems to be pointing to the new shiny thing coming soon, but not looking at the big picture, AKB does. I too hope this thing succeeds. The financial LLC shenanigans that give developers like Nando loopholes where they can walk scott free from financial disasters really irk me. The reno realty blog referenced earlier shows what you can do if you are savvy and know the right people.

  • February 17, 2011 - 11:58:48 AM

    To my knowledge AKB there was no bailout. Corus took back the property as an asset as a deed in lieu of foreclosure, that doesnt mean Leal got off Scott-free. Then the FDIC closed down Corus and acquired all of its assets, of which Starwood bought 40% of. While the FDIC owns 60% the Montage, I dont see how it is a burden on taxpayers. It was Corus Banks decision to take back the building in lieu of foreclosure. Corus had towers all over the freakin place, I just dont get that bank. They betted heavily on real estate boom and lost. The Montage is but one tiny piece of their portfolio of dozens and dozens of condo towers built from 2005-2009. And again, this idea is not something Leal came up with on a whim....hes talked to tons of industry experts in the rock climbing business about this, and the level of excitement over this project has gone national within that industry. It will be the only certified competition speed wall on the West Coast. I dont think your grasping the positive implication that will have on downtown, the amount of competitions that will be brought here because of it. Its being built by the most reputable rock wall construction firm in the world.

  • February 17, 2011 - 8:36:44 PM

    I stand corrected! Corus applied for TARP money but did not get it so there was no taxpayer bailout...yet. It remains to be seen if the FDIC can resolve banking failures using the premiums collected from the banks, including that special assessment of $46 billion in 2009. The FDIC has a $500 billion line of credit with the US Treasury and we shall see it they have to tap into that. If the US economy weakens and more banks fail the FDIC’s only option will be a bailout by the US Treasury. We all collectively pay for these premiums and the special assessment through higher interest rates and more fees. The Montage is a beautiful building no doubt about it but the cost in dollars and lost equity is staggering. At this point all of this means nothing in the context of the Fitz. I am not trying to be negative about what could be a major improvement to downtown but I feel extremely skeptical of any developer. Portland experienced a condo boom as well. At the height of it people were "buying" condos not yet built for 5K down and waiting a year and selling for 20% plus in profit. It did not take a genius to see that at some point a certain group of people were going to sign that presale agreement and wind up with an asset worth considerably less than they signed for. Leal had much more inside information and details than the average Joe which is why I have little pity for the predicament he found himself in with the Montage. Do I think Leal is the Devil? No, and I think that compared with the schmucks I have dealt with up here he probably is better than most. But he is a developer and a speculator and I am more than a bit suspicious of the whole lot. I've seen too many developers and builders up here declare bankruptcy, reorganize and be back in business a short time later unencumbered by the pesky debt of paying the subcontractors for the hard and honest work they performed. I talked with an electrician 2 weeks ago that was forced to accept 10 cents on the dollar from a local developer/builder. The electrician has lost his home and the developer has a new luxury subdivision started in East County. I have heard that Leal has not stiffed the help and that is encouraging. Bottom line is that Leal has not created any lasting jobs downtown and in fact he has eliminated more jobs than he has created. Even if/when the Fitz is turned into CommRow my recollection is it will employ 150. Still 150 is better than nothing and lights and activity are or huge importance on that corner. I am however wondering how the back rent on the garage factors in. 500K could put a few firefighters or police on the streets. It could fund any number of smaller projects. I think if Leal wants the kind of public support he needs he should be clear about the whys and hows of all this. His spin machine sucks. I am familiar with the firm he's contracted for the wall. I spend a lot of time in Central Oregon and it's good news in that area. I've biked a lot of trails in the area and watched some of the climbers there. Not sure I can picture them going to Reno or if they will bring in the coinage to make it work. I am also concerned what is to become of the old Masons building on Commercial and Sierra. That is a treasure and needs special care, in my opinion. My thought is that your web site does so much more of a service to Downtown Reno than any "project". Thanks again...the community owes you big! I am looking forward to having dinner at that restaurant in the old Riverside building when I get back there in March. Can't remember the name...Wild something Grill? Oh well, I'm out!

  • February 19, 2011 - 8:46:28 AM

    Why was my comment removed? This website is crap, run by the Gestapo, who eliminate any comment/idea that differs from their own.

  • February 19, 2011 - 9:05:26 AM

    Somedude, I never remove comments unless they personally flame individuals. This web site is run by me, a web designer, not some Gestapo, and there are PLENTY of comments in this thread that criticize both Leal, and this project, which obviously weren't removed, so chill out, get a life, and stop insulting me. It was probably a technical glitch.

  • February 19, 2011 - 9:33:57 AM

    Somedude, Mike works hard on this site, and he is far from gestapo. I have flamed Nando Leal and his lame projects for months and my comments have not ever been censored. Although Mike and I disagree, and I have been called names and what have you by posters here, Mike has not only defended me, but has kept every post I have written up. Keep on giving your opinion, that is what the comment section is for, but give Mike his props, he is doing this as a non profit website, and is doing it well.

  • October 3, 2011 - 4:21:01 PM

    I agree that more revitalization needs to occur, but between this, and what is starting to take place on West St., downtown Reno has a much brighter future than when I moved here, three years ago. We have the potential, with the riverwalk and the atmosphere that can be provided in downtown to really have a city that other's can be envious of. Imagine Reno without desirable would that city be - tremendously. Obviously, I'm not so blind or radical to say eliminate the gaming, but we need to focus on what we have going for us. Our location, at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, mild climate, proximity to Tahoe, the Truckee River flowing through downtown...we could be similar to Boulder, CO as an outdoor playground. Whether you agree with my assessment or not, you have to agree that this isn't just a step in the right direction, but a leap forward. As for the rest of downtown's problems - how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  • February 14, 2012 - 6:28:57 PM

    At least Leal is trying to improve downtown Reno, instead of sitting around like you guys with your finger up your posterior, complaining. AKB would probably boo a cure for cancer.

  • February 14, 2012 - 7:07:36 PM

    Both my parents died from cancer so no, I wouldn't boo that. When Nando cures cancer he'll have my support.

  • February 18, 2012 - 5:01:28 PM

    I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your establishment on the Vampire Crawl. I bartend down town and will definitely send customers your way. I do want to let you know my entry into your place was un-pleasant. A door guy let his friends through the line which was fine. I just did not appreciate his friends knocking my I'D out of my hand and then trampling on my hand when I bent down to pick it up. I was standing right in front on the door man and all he could say was..."thanks for waiting." Other than that you have a great place and I will think about coming back.

  • February 24, 2012 - 2:03:56 PM

    Oh snap comment deleted! Must have hit too close to home. I didn't mention his name though so it should all be good right? CommRow's security staff resigned because of the environment the GM there is creating. Nuff said.