The City of Reno’s Historical Resources Commission today issued a public letter calling on the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) to halt plans for a business building to be built on Center Street where historic homes are located.
The letter comes after months of discussions about UNR’s plans. In the letter, the commission is requesting:
Reconsideration of the plan to locate a new College of Business building on the west side of North Center Street, the precise location of some of Reno’s most historic houses.
A halt to current plans to relocate any of the historic houses on the west side of North Center Street until the possibility of preserving the houses in place has been thoroughly explored.
A pause in developing site plans for the Gateway District until such time as the RTC learns what property it may be able to acquire on the Virginia Street side of the Gateway and precisely how much land would be required to construct its facilities there.
University officials said in July that they wanted to partner with the HRC on relocating the homes. Many protested UNR’s position at that meeting.
Commissioner Melinda Gustin said that the proposed, five-story business building does not visually correlate with the idea of bridging UNR with the downtown area.
“I really think there is a gap between … where we are today and how we arrived at this solution,” she said.
Commissioner Mercedes De La Garza added that “it’s not a very creative solution for that block. I didn’t feel like we were given more options (other) than relocating the homes.”
Today’s letter is addressed to city officials, Nevada’s congressional delegation and the Nevada Board of Regents. The HRC indicated that it was supportive of UNR’s expansion needs.
While sympathetic to and supportive of UNR’s needs for expansion to accommodate projected increases in enrollment, we believe it is eminently possible to preserve in place some of these historically significant homes and move others, while still retaining abundant room for new construction, and we hope you will join us in encouraging UNR to follow this course of action.”
UNR officials have said that the business building has to be on the west side of Center Street because it will be a “signature building” at the gateway to campus.
“We were already aware of the letter and feel we’ve done and continue to do our due diligence with this project,” said UNR spokeswoman Kerri Garcia.
Read the complete document below.
This story has been updated to add the UNR statement.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.