Jacobs Entertainment yesterday locked in the potential purchase of a West Second Street property. The option to purchase lets Jacobs have dibs on the property for two years. The parcel will continue to serve as a paid parking lot for the city while Jacobs decides on a use for it. A purchase option price of $25,000 is not refundable if the company decides not to purchase the property.
If Jacobs purchases the lot, it will be at fair market value. The city valued the parcel at $780,000 in 2016.
Through a spokesperson, Jeff Jacobs declined to comment on the deal, but a representative of the company spoke yesterday at the Reno City Council meeting.
Garrett Gordon with Jacobs Entertainment said: “If and when Jacobs exercises the option, I’ll be back before you with the actual project along with the fair market value, and you’ll have another bite at the apple to know what this will be developed into.”
“Please use this for a public good.”
Requirements of the deal require that the property must be developed into an economic or redevelopment project. A building permit would have to be filed within 18 months after the property is purchased.
City Council approved the agreement, but Councilmember Jenny Brekhus voted against it, calling it a “special deal with Jacobs entertainment of a public asset. We’ve lost a lot of units of last resort, and they’re not being rebuilt.”
Brekhus said that the city could require that the property be used for affordable housing.
“We can make this land available and get some units rebuilt in very short order,” she added. “Please use this for a public good.”
Gordon said that Jacobs plans to build 2,000 residential units as part of its development of west downtown, and Mayor Hillary Schieve defended the company.
“He’s done a lot in this community,” she said. “He’s been very quiet about what he’s done in this city, and I appreciate it.”
Council member Devon Reese raised the point that nobody has expressed interest in purchasing the lot in recent years.
“We haven’t had people knock on our door to build affordable housing there,” he said. “I just take issue with the characterization that we’re making a choice between affordable housing or another developer.”
Gordon said that Jacobs has plans for affordable housing as part of their development.
“Renova Flats, which was just remodeled, has 10% affordable housing,” he explained.
Parishioners of the Catholic church near the lot opposed the sale, citing the need for parking. Parking in the lot is free on Sunday.