Developers ask for abandonment of Stevenson Street for a second time

by Mike Van Houten / Aug 17, 2023

It was three years ago that a pair of developers came forward asking for Stevenson Street to be abandoned to create an open space park between their residentials projects on Stevenson Street, between 2nd and 1st Street. 

You can actually watch the meeting for that here:

On a side note, wow it's almost triggering to watch meetings from that time period, at the height of COVID when all meeting were done on ZOOM. 

Anyway, now in 2023, they have submitted a plan to the city for review to abandon Stevenson Street, and instead make it mostly private parking for their developments. It calls for 70 angled pull-in parking spaces, with 12 of those being public, and the remainder for their developments. Cars would still be able to travel through the street but only in a one-way direction. 

Now is a good time to remind everyone that street abandonments are final. Once a street is abandoned, it never returns to the city. It stays with the property owner, and if they property owner sells their property, it's transferred to the new owner.

It doesn't matter if the developer decides to build parking on it, a park, or incorporate the land into another project. Once the city gives that land up it has absolutely no say in land uses at that point, other than existing land code and use applications. The only exception would be if the developer requires a Special Use Permit or Conditional Use Permit for their project. Then, the city has a bit more teeth for asks from the developer. 

Also, the outcome of the 2020 meeting was that the city council decided the abandonement would be a great candidate for a development agreement, a back-then-new tool the council had in order to have a developer bring more to the bargaining table in order to give them what they want in return. 

I'm not sure if a development agreement has actually been put in into place yet...maybe those new apartments by Summit SIerra Mall that incldued affordable housing? Not sure. The development agreement with Jacobs is perpetually on-hold pending a lawsuit. 

So my questions are: 

1. Are these parking spaces for residents, or for planned commercial/retail in the two projects flanking Stevenson Street? If they are for planned commercial/retail, then I feel the best option is to have the developer build those spaces out, on both sides, get them leased, and then the City/RTC can look at reconfiguring the street to provide more parking for everyone, yet still own it. If the parking is for residents....why? First, who would park their car in an unprotected area on what is essentially a street, in downtown Reno? Why isn't/wasn't enough parking included with the original projects? I mean, one isn't even built yet. 

2. Why do they need these extra spaces when parking was built for Mod2? And Mod1 seems to have functioned fine with the parking it has, for years now. Why can't the residential project that isn't even built yet or permits submitted for, simply add the parking it needs within the project itself? 

3. Whatever happened with the development agreement for the open space park? That seems like a way better use than private parking. 

I need a really good explanation for this street abandonment, beyond just needing the parking, or it's a hard no from me. Street abandonments are final. 

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