Jacobs Entertainment, a Colorado company, is now one of the largest property owners in downtown Reno. The company’s purchase in recent years of numerous parcels in west downtown has drawn concern from many who want to know what, exactly, is being done with the development of what the company is calling the Reno Neon Line District.
Some renovations have been made to existing properties, a handful of art sculptures have been installed, but many of the parcels remain vacant after Jacobs demolished a number of the weekly hotels on the parcels.
A development agreement is now up for consideration at Reno City Hall for Wednesday’s council meeting. It details a number of requests by the developer to the city. Those include subsidies for fees, sales of city properties at discounted rates, the creation of a new redevelopment district and the removal of properties from existing redevelopment districts.
The wish list, however, comes with no timeline for construction that is estimated to occur over 20 years.
City staff wrote: “The proposed Development Agreement would provide a suite of financial subsidies and special design allowances for a mixed-use entertainment area in the western portion of downtown Reno, which the Developer is calling Reno’s Neon Line District.”
Jacobs wants subsidies on building permit fees, sewer connection fees, sewer credits, pedestrian amenity requirements and residential construction taxes. It also wants “design allowances related to area identification signs, streetlights, Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) projects, artwork, skyways, and street closures.”
Staff said plans for the district include 2,000-3,000 new residential units, an open amphitheater “and other as yet undefined commercial, retail, plaza, green space, convention and entertainment venues.”
City staff are recommending general support of the agreement but want to see more details.
“Potential benefits of the proposal include increased viability of redevelopment projects in the District, which could result in a transformation of a blighted area into a vibrant urban center with quality public facilities, new urban housing, increased economic activity, and additional tax revenue to the City over time,” staff noted. “Potential impacts of the proposal include reduced and deferred revenues to the City from a variety of established programs, redirection of property sale revenue from planned public facilities to the Developer, and potentially significant impacts on redevelopment district revenue available for other projects.”
Jacobs also wants easement agreements for exclusive and perpetual air rights for three skyways.
“The three proposed skyways would connect the Sands to the south over the ReTrac corridor, to the East over Arlington Avenue, and to the West over Ralston Street,” staff noted.
The development would also close West Third Street between Arlington and Vine.
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. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.