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UNR on Center Street Homes: No Final Decisions Made

By Bob Conrad
The Mary Sherman House on Center Street

Image: RenoHistorical.org / State Historic Preservation Office.

The Facebook group “Save Reno’s Historic University Avenue” said this week that the University of Nevada, Reno approved the transfer of its historic homes on Center Street to another public agency. Here is what they posted:

We have just learned that UNR President Marc Johnson has approved the transfer of the historic Center Street houses to another public agency, which will move them away from the University of Nevada, Reno. The plan has apparently been in the works for some time and has progressed significantly, all without informing the public or allowing the Historical Resources Commission of the City of Reno Government to provide any input about which agency will receive them, where they will go, or what their use will be.

We are frankly stunned at this lack of transparency by a public university and the blatant disregard for the obvious public interest in these historic properties, one of which is listed on both the city and state historic registers. We’ll post more information here as we learn it. UPDATE: This appears to be the site they have selected: the north side of Eighth Street between Record Street & Valley Road, perhaps for use as transitional housing.

We reached out to the university for comment. Here’s what UNR spokeswoman Kerri Garcia wrote:

The University continues to work with the City of Reno and Regional Transportation Commission to better connect the University to the City of Reno.  The process started with our master plan, approved by the Board of Regents in December of 2014 and has continued over the last three years.  We continue to work diligently to meet the demands of the University’s growth while being a strong community partner.

We have been forthright about the need to use the Gateway area to expand academic space to serve our students. We have held numerous discussions with the Historic Resource Commission (HRC) and its representatives and have requested their assistance to find a solution that includes the relocation of the Center Street houses.

Most recently, the University has been working on a proposal with related partners in the community, City of Reno, Washoe County and the State of Nevada, to relocate the houses for uses beneficial to the broader community.   The two categories of uses we’ve researched are affordable housing and transitional housing.  We are looking for partners to operate, maintain and sustain the houses for the broader community’s benefit.  Both uses would contribute to solutions for critical housing issues identified by our local governments.

We recently met with HRC Chair, Peter Dube and Associate Planner, City of Reno and HRC Liaison, Jeff Borchardt to share these ideas.  We also requested to meet with the full HRC later this month to update them as we have continued to do.

This process is complex with the University continuing to work diligently on collaborations that benefit the community with no final decisions having been made.

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