The city’s downtown action plan, presented today to the Reno City Council, proposes huge changes to Reno’s urban core.
Based on citizen feedback, the plan proposes to expand housing options and to transform the area from a business to living environment.
Denver-based consultant Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA) developed the plan and proposed the creation of a non-profit, consisting primarily of property owners, that would oversee a new downtown business improvement district.
Funding for the district would come from expanding the downtown area to capture more businesses and properties, a possible liquor and marijuana impact fee, contributions from larger institutions such as the University of Nevada, Reno, and possible general fund support.
Councilman Paul McKenzie criticized the funding ideas and said most of the funding should come from private interests, not the city’s general fund.
An ambassador program, comprising 20 uniformed ambassadors, will help provide services to homeless and transient populations. Police coverage will not be reduced.
The Washoe Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) announced that it will invest $25,000 toward the plan and $150,000 for the ambassador program.
St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center CEO Helen Lidholm also announced at the meeting that the hospital is expanding its in-patient psychiatric care and facilities.
“You won’t recognize downtown in a few years,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve. “This is truly a game-changer for downtown.”
The plan to create the new organization will need to be approved by property owners and the city council. If approved, services could start in 2018. Most everyone speaking during public comment expressed support for the plan, with some cautioning not to leave the homeless and working poor behind.
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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.