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Jacobs Entertainment development agreement approved after caustic council discussion


The Reno City Council on Wednesday approved a 20-year development agreement for Jacobs Entertainment to transform west downtown. 

The Colorado-based company must file a building permit for 63 new residences within a year of the agreement’s date. Jacobs representatives also agreed to hold public meetings on the project.

Preliminary designs of the so-called Neon Line District have been criticized for having LED lighting features as opposed to actual neon.

Garrett Gordon, attorney for Jacobs, said the district is not an official designation but is being marketed as such anyway.

“This has caught on. RSCVA [and] Travel Nevada are marketing this as the Neon Line District,” he said.

The approval came after a lengthy discussion that featured bickering, arguing and allegations of slander among the mayor and council members.

Council members Naomi Duerr and Jenny Brekhus both voted against the proposal. Brekhus said she wanted the developer to be held to specific requirements and Duerr said she wanted more transparency in the process.

“I need more details,” Duerr said. “We haven’t had [a public workshop] and that’s why I’m surprised we’re here today.”

She said she requested a public workshop, among a number of concerns, in both April and July, and it never happened.

“I think it would help [Jacobs Entertainment],” she added.

City staff said the development would bring property tax benefits to the community, but Council member Devon Reese disagreed.

He said the benefits were much greater, such as reducing blight, arts and culture benefits and increased housing stock.

Council members generally agreed Jacobs Entertainment representatives needed to increase communication with the community, particularly the city’s neighborhood advisory boards.

Most public commenters spoke against the agreement. They said the lack of details, lack of outreach about the development to citizens and lack of details in the agreement about what — exactly — was being approved as the main reasons for their opposition.

The council wasn’t swayed.

A few spoke in favor of the project. They said the area has been historically blighted and trashy and therefore in need of improvement.

Other council actions

Police station upgrades approved for $19 million.

The following are provided by city staff.

Parks ambassador program approved 

Council approved a one-year park ambassador pilot program for downtown parks in the amount of $159,543.80. The Downtown Reno Partnership ambassadors monitor five zones within the BID [Business Improvement District], including six parks. The approved one-year park ambassador pilot program will provide monitoring and increased outreach services to all six BID parks, plus an added three parks outside the BID, totaling nine parks. The objective of the pilot program is to ensure parks are clean, accessible, and safe for all members of the community in partnership with the City of Reno.

Rosewood Lakes Municipal Golf Course gets a new name

Council approved the renaming of Rosewood Lakes Municipal Golf Course to Rosewood Lakes Nature Study Area. The council approved a long-term lease with the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation to operate the former Rosewood Lakes Golf Course as a nature study area. As such, the name of the facility needed to be changed to clearly describe the function of the property. The Parks and Recreation naming policy recommended updating the name of a facility when the purpose for that location has been changed. 

Whip ban ordinance gets final approval 

Council heard a second reading and adopted an ordinance for the Reno Municipal Code titled 8.18.035 Unlawful use of a whip. On August 25, 2021, the council heard from both the public and the Reno Police Department over the growing concern of whips being used. The Reno Police Department reported that they have seen a 61% increase in calls for service involving whips. The service call comes in as shots fired due to the fact that when someone cracks a whip the sound it produces is similar to that of a firearm. Whips are also being used in public areas for fights, intimidation and practicing “cracking” the whip.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
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.