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The Lear Theater, the UNR Skyway & another study of Virginia Street (commentary)


In this week’s Barber Brief, Alicia Barber discusses three projects she’s been watching that are included on this week’s City Council agenda. Read the full missive here. 

By Alicia Barber

As I write this, I want to send out my very best wishes for the health and safety of all those suffering from the horrible California wildfires and the dense smoke that’s choking our region, with particular gratitude for those firefighters on the front lines, concern for the unhoused and unsheltered, and empathy with my fellow parents wrestling with school cancellations. 

Let’s take a quick look at some items on the Reno City Council’s agenda for tomorrow, August 25, along with a few other issues I’ve been keeping an eye on.

A Purchase Agreement for the Lear Theater

You may recall that on July 21, City Council agreed to accept the “donation” of the Lear Theater and its parking lot from Artown, with direction to staff to return on a future date with final terms. That final agreement will be in front of Council this Wednesday, for approval under Item D.6.

Inside the historic First Church of Christ Scientist (Lear Theater). Image: Alicia Barber

What’s changed this time is that the property is no longer being donated but purchased for a total of $875,000 to be paid to Artown from the City’s Room Tax Fund over a period of seven years—an amount that equates to a six-year extension of the $125,000 the City approved giving Artown this year during item B.6 on July 21, but through the mechanism of the property sale rather than direct sponsorship.  

As Councilmember Jenny Brekhus suggested and others supported in July, the agreement apparently has also been “cleaned up” to remove some of the conditions Artown had proposed, including some exclusive rights to use the building and parking lot in the future, and the deal to split the net proceeds should the City sell or lease the building. Artown is, however, still keeping the adjacent house (528 West First Street), which came to them (for free) with the Lear Theater.

If the City agrees to buy the Lear, then what? Read More

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