By John Seelmeyer
Historic preservation groups have launched a petition campaign that urges UNR officials to save 19th century houses on Center Street that are slated for demolition.
The online petition asks university officials to allow more time to develop a plan to save the houses in UNR’s Gateway District.
University officials say they’ve already been working for three years to find new locations for the houses, work that’s included dozens of meetings with the Historic Resources Commission, historic preservationists, local nonprofits and government representatives from Reno, Washoe County and the state.
During that process, the Historic Resources Commission was given several options for land from the City of Reno to move the houses, said UNR spokeswoman Kerri Garcia.
“As stewards of taxpayer money, the university cannot justify funding their relocation and renovation.”
— UNR Spokesperson Kerri Garcia
“We worked diligently with all these parties but concluded the cost to relocate and renovate the houses far surpassed the public resources available,” Garcia said. “As stewards of taxpayer money, the university cannot justify funding their relocation and renovation.”
Michael Green, executive director of Preserve Nevada, says the community and the university can do better.
“I cannot believe that both the community at large and the university in particular would so cavalierly agree to the demolition of these important houses, or that the community and university are willing to tolerate the efforts that have been made to promote their demolition,” Green said in a prepared statement.
He said the houses between 8th and 9th streets on Center Street represent Reno’s last intact block of 19th Century houses.
The Historic Reno Preservation Society is spearheading the petition drive.
The university is negotiating with a design firm that would provide a schedule for removal of the homes. Removal is tentatively scheduled for next spring. The houses, which already are owned by UNR, must be removed by the end of 2019, university officials have said.
Garcia said university officials met again in late November with representatives of Common Ground Urban Development and Burning Man, which have been working to move the houses but haven’t been able to come up with the money they need. Nothing was settled during that meeting, Garcia said.
John Seelmeyer is a business writer and editor in Reno. In his 40-year career, he has edited publications in Nevada, Colorado and California and written several thousand published articles about business and finance.