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Road Abandonment Approved To Make Way for Student Housing

By Carla O'Day
Photo: Carla O'Day

Photo: Carla O’Day

By Carla O’Day

The Reno City Council today approved the abandonment of a portion of Lake Street, which will be part of a project expected to provide a connection between the the University of Nevada, Reno and downtown.

Approved by a 5-1 vote, the road abandonment is compromised of a 10-foot wide by 400-foot long section on Lake Street between East Sixth and East Seventh streets.

Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus dissented, saying it would be an “urban design error to disrupt Lake Street because it still has value.” Councilman Paul McKenzie was absent but posted a message Wednesday on a Facebook page, indicating there’s more to the project that what the Council is being advised.

“There is much to this deal which has not been revealed, and the Council is not even being told all of the assistance being given to the developer,” McKenzie wrote. “A project such as this in a redevelopment area, which is receiving assistance, should be covered by a redevelopment agreement (that) outlines all of the elements of the assistance, and which requires certain things from the developer in return as required under redevelopment law. Things like relocation of displaced residents affected by the development.”

The Standard at Reno plans to use Lake Street as part of land assembly for its project, which will be private, off-campus housing for UNR students. An attached parking structure is also planned.

Opposition at the Council meeting was more about the proposed project than it was about the vote on the 4,000 square foot strip of land.

Members of ACTIONN, an acronym for Acting in Community Together in Organizing Northern Nevada, expressed their concerns about project logistics to council members.

ACTIONN executive director Mike Thornton said the city should make sure the developer purchases building materials for the project locally and that the developer hire local workers and pay them a fair wage.

Another ACTIONN leader, Betty Bishop, said many people living in the area are disabled, elderly or don’t have reliable transportation and would struggle to move on their own by the end of June.

“Look very closely at this redevelopment project and make sure we’re not indifferent to these people,” Bishop said. “They need to be taken care of.”

Land owner Marty Guidici acknowledged some of his tenants need help moving, and he’s been willing to use trucks and laborers to help. He’s been researching other available units in the area and sharing them with his tenants. Many have already moved.

“Most of them, because of our approach, have been very understanding about it because we started early,” Guidici said.

Assistant City Manager Bill Thomas fielded questions from council members about the Lake Street strip. He said abandoning the strip would not cause public harm and that it would be un-developable if it were its own parcel.

Other parcels related to this project have been before the City Council recently. Council members in March approved a 20-foot by 400-foot long alleyway abandonment between East Sixth and Seventh streets is 180 feet east of the North Center Street-East Sixth Street interchange.



Leah April 14, 2016 - 12:58 am

Having been, at one time, a struggling college student at UNR, I know the difficulties and frustrations of finding affordable housing close to the University (in order to cut costs of parking, gas, etc). Our university system has grown by leaps and bounds as more students are coming to school in Reno. There are also more adults, like myself, who have already have the necessary degrees and are pursuing higher education, which will also bring more students to the university. However, I am an emphatic advocate of fair and honest dealings with local government and transparency, fairness, and assistance to those who need it most. We simply cannot force one community out of their homes to accommodate another. I think it is only fair that if a new location cannot be found, that the University and the City of Reno ensure that ALL citizens of Reno (from children to senior citizens; as well as people of ALL socioeconomic levels.) Much more time, consideration, and effort by the honest citizens of our city is required to resolve this issue.
I am also aware that our city is about to experience a huge influx of new citizens, but we simply cannot and should not force people out of their homes in order to accommodate our new citizens. Those with the financial ability to attend college do not take precedence over those who cannot move from their homes for any number of reasons.
We, as a city, also must be careful to preserve our historical neighborhoods who have seen generations of people living and working there.
I urge us all, from government officials to the people who make up this melting pot that is our city, to recognize and ensure that the needs of ALL Reno residents are fairly and equally considered when making decisions about the changes that are necessary for our community to grow. Reno is and has been considered home to so many people, and EVERYONE should have equal consideration.

Debbie April 13, 2016 - 4:58 pm

Any one else sick of everything being geared to university housing? Seems the elderly and disabled are no longer worth redevelopers time. I find it disturbing

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